Singapore Airlines cooperating with authorities in probing severe flight turbulence incident

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Singapore Airlines on Wednesday said it is fully cooperating with relevant authorities in the investigation into the London to Singapore flight which encountered severe turbulence, leading to the death of one passenger and injuring 30 others. Geoffrey Kitchen, a 73-year-old British passenger, died likely due to a heart attack on the Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ321, operating from London (Heathrow) to Singapore on Tuesday, said Kittipong Kittikachorn, general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, to where the flight was diverted under emergency.

As many as 30 passengers were injured after the flight on May 21 encountered “sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet about 10 hours after departure.” The carrier said the remaining passengers aboard the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft carrying 229 people were examined and treated at the airport. SIA is fully cooperating with the relevant authorities in probing this incident, SIA Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong said. As many as 131 passengers and 12 crew members, who earlier arrived in Singapore via a relief flight on May 22, were received at Changi Airport by Goh.

Transportation to their homes or hotel accommodation has been arranged for passengers travelling to Singapore. The SIA in its latest update confirmed an additional five passengers on board the SQ321 flight will return to Singapore on Wednesday. Another 74 passengers and six crew members, including those receiving medical care, as well as, their family members and loved ones who were on the flight, were still in Bangkok. The airline confirmed that one crew member is scheduled to return to Singapore on May 23.

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“For passengers with onward connections, we have rebooked them on alternative flights. We have also arranged hotel accommodation or lounge access for them to rest until their next flight,” Singapore’s flag carrier said. “On behalf of the Singapore Airlines Board, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of our passenger who passed away on May 21, 2024, in the SQ321 incident. I assure all passengers and crew members who were on board the aircraft that we are committed to supporting them during this difficult time,” said Peter Seah, Chairman of Singapore Airlines.

“I also wish to express my gratitude to everyone in Singapore, Thailand, and around the world who are assisting those affected by this incident,” Seah said. The carrier also said it was actively reaching out to family members and loved ones, where possible, of the injured persons to provide updates and offer any needed support. The nationalities of the passengers are as follows: 56 from Australia, three Indians, two from Canada, one from Germany, two Indonesians, one from Iceland, four from Ireland, one from Israel, 16 from Malaysia, two from Myanmar, 23 from New Zealand, five from the Philippines, 41 Singaporeans, one South Korean, two from Spain, 47 from the United Kingdom, and four from the US.

“A dedicated SIA team from Singapore is in Bangkok to assist our colleagues and the local authorities. We are providing all possible support to the passengers and crew from SQ321 who remain in Bangkok,” said the airline. “On behalf of Singapore Airlines, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased passenger. We also deeply apologise for the trauma experienced by all passengers and crew members on this flight,” Goh said.

“We are providing all possible assistance and support to them, along with their families and loved ones, during this difficult time. The well-being of our passengers and staff is our utmost priority,” he added. US aircraft manufacturer Boeing extended its condolences to the family of the British national who died aboard SQ321.