Passengers flying to New Zealand for the All Blacks rugby union Test against South Africa were left stranded at Melbourne airport after a pilot failed an alcohol test.
The Singapore Airlines flight was scheduled to arrive in Wellington at 12.20pm on Saturday, but was abruptly cancelled “due to an operating crew member being deemed unfit to fly”, the airline confirmed to Yahoo7.
The pilot had reportedly flown from Singapore a day or two earlier, before a layover in Melbourne according to Stuff, when he showed up for work Saturday but failed a random alcohol test.
“The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) officials undertook a random drug and alcohol test of all crew prior to them starting their pre-flight checks,” Singapore Airlines spokesperson Karl Schubert confirmed.
“The pilot in question did not pass the test due to having a higher than suitable blood-alcohol limit.”
He was stood down and has been suspended from all duties effective immediately.
One passenger tweeted his disappointment of flying all the way from Tokyo to watch the game, but was forced to miss it.
@SingaporeAir care to try to explain why your captain (ie most experienced person on the aircraft) of SQ247 waits until boarding time to decide they’re too ill/drunk to fly? Will miss the 1st #allblacks #rugby match I bought tickets for and flew to WLG from NRT to see😭 #sad
— Muteki iikun (@M_iikun) September 15, 2018
Another man said his friend was “stranded” in Melbourne watching the AFL instead of being in New Zealand when his beloved All Blacks, who went down in an upset against South Africa’s Springboks at Westpac Stadium.
— nicholas martin (@nickywalnuts) September 15, 2018
Not only were rugby fans inconvenienced, the cancellation of Flight SQ247 meant the plane could not make it to Wellington for its return flight to Melbourne, which also had to be cancelled.
Stranded passengers reportedly waited six hours for another flight out of Melbourne, with some describing minimal updates from grounds staff.
— Jorge Gil (@_gil_87) September 15, 2018
@SingaporeAir terrible service on your cancelled Melbourne to Wellington flight this morning. No options given to stranded customers except to call your useless booking line! Hotel fees and taxi fares all lost not to mention a day of holiday. Appalling service
— Rachel (@racheleelene) September 15, 2018
“No options given to stranded customers except to call your useless booking line!” one woman tweeted.
The airline responded to her tweet, saying: “You may wish to approach our ground staff for assistance in the matter, as they are best able to assist at this juncture.”
However, it appears they weren’t much help.
“We’ve been waiting for almost an hour in a queue and your ground staff don’t appear to be able to offer any real assistance. We’ve been told to collect our baggage,” the passenger added in a follow-up tweet.
The pilot has since returned to Singapore where a full investigation will be undertaken, the airline confirmed to Yahoo7 on Monday morning.
“We sincerely apologise to those affected by the cancellation of these flights. However, the safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority,” Mr Schubert said.
“We have worked with customers whose travel was inconvenienced to find suitable alternate travel arrangements as quickly as possible.”