PETALING JAYA • An Australian passenger on board an extremely turbulent AirAsia X flight on Sunday has defended the low-cost carrier and the pilot against critics, saying that they should be praised and not blamed for the incident.
AirAsia X is the long-haul service for budget carrier AirAsia. Flight D7237 was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Perth on Sunday, but had to return to Perth Airport 11/2 hours later due to a technical issue.
Passengers had reported saying that the Airbus A330 was "shaking like a washing machine". The flight landed safely in Perth about three hours after its departure.
Critics blamed the captain for urging passengers on board to pray for their safety. But others like 15- year-old Madeline Wright said the pilot kept all 359 people on board safe and calm during the incident and its aftermath.
"It disgusts me that people are criticising our captain for telling us to pray and are trying to get him fired," Madeline wrote on Tuesday. "The full context was, 'everything is under control in the cockpit. If you want to say a prayer, that might help too'," she said, adding that his urging to pray was said in a way that comforted them.
"He was a reassuring voice during this event and gave us hope, he is the reason I am still alive and I cannot thank him enough," she wrote on her Facebook account.
Madeline also hit back at critics laying the blame for the incident on AirAsia's low fare. "The fact that we and other passengers paid less for a flight is not the reason for this plane's accident. We didn't pay less for a technical problem, we paid less for no electronic devices, no meals and less legroom," she said.
Said AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes: "AirAsia (does not) make engines and all airlines have engine failures. But when it does happen, it takes great pilots and great leadership in times of crisis."
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK