Qantas Sydney to Manila, Philippines flight makes U-turn amid airport chaos after Jetstar Bali chaos


Qantas plane is forced to turn around mid-flight and return to Sydney in wild U-turn that echoed the Bali Jetstar chaos – but this time it wasn’t the airline’s fault

  • Sydney to Manila flight was forced to return three hours into its trip
  • Philippines airport was hit by a power cut which shut down the airspace
  • Qantas QF19 Airbus 330 landed back in Sydney after almost eight hours in air
  • It later took off again and flew through the night to Manila at 3.52am

Passengers on a Qantas plane from Sydney to the Philippines endured a nightmare eight-hour flight to nowhere after a power cut at Manila Airport forced it to turn around.

The Airbus 330 had to return to Sydney on Sunday night following the mid-flight U-turn just as it passed west of the tip of Cape York in far north Queensland.

It had to trek back down the east coast of Australia after the Philippines’ capital city airport was hit by a power cut which blacked out air traffic control, shutting down airspace.

Passengers on a Qantas plane from Sydney to the Philippines endured a nightmare eight-hour flight to nowhere after Manila Airport shut down while it was in mid-air

The Filipino capital's airport was hit by a power cut which blacked out air traffic control, shutting down airspace

The Filipino capital’s airport was hit by a power cut which blacked out air traffic control, shutting down airspace 

The QF19 flight to Ninoy Aquino International Airport had left Sydney at 12.30pm on New Year’s Day but touched down, right back where it started, at 7.50pm.

Qantas chiefs feared the plane could have run out of fuel if they flew on to Manila and were forced to circle for hours while technicians battled to restore the power.

It was one of almost 300 flights diverted, and by mid-afternoon on New Year’s Day, the normally busy airspace over the Phillipines was entirely empty of all air traffic. 

It comes just three days after a Jetstar flight from Melbourne to Bali had to turn around after airline staff forgot to fill out the correct paperwork for their aircraft.

Flight JQ35 was packed with Bali holidaymakers when it left Melbourne late on Tuesday night after having already been delayed by five hours.

But four hours into the journey – with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner somewhere over Broome, Western Australia – it was forced to turn around and fly back to Melbourne.

A Jetstar spokesperson said the airline had used a larger Boeing 787 aircraft to carry more customers during the holidays – but forgot to get approval from Indonesian regulators.

The Qantas QF19 flight  was one of almost 300 flights diverted, and by mid-afternoon on New Year's Day, the normally busy airspace over the Phillipines was entirely empty of all air traffic

The Qantas QF19 flight  was one of almost 300 flights diverted, and by mid-afternoon on New Year’s Day, the normally busy airspace over the Phillipines was entirely empty of all air traffic

Sunday’s electrical issues at Philippines Air Traffic Management Centre were first noticed at 9am local time, shortly before the Qantas flight first left Sydney.

The ‘technical issues’ were initially reported to be restricting the use of some radio channels but quickly escalated to trigger the entire shutdown of the local airspace.

Power was successfully restored around eight hours later and flights finally resumed after the chaotic series of diversions and U-turns.

A Philippines Airlines flight from Brisbane to Manila PR222 was among the first to land at the re-opened airport around 5pm local time, which was soon followed by a separate Philippines Airlines Sydney to Manila flight.

The daily Sydney QF19 flight – which normally takes around 7 hours and 30 minutes – had been due to touch down in Manila at 5.30pm local time. 

Qantas chiefs feared the Airbus 330 like the one pictured) could run out of fuel if they flew on to Manila and were forced to circle for hours while technicians battled to restore the power

Qantas chiefs feared the Airbus 330 like the one pictured) could run out of fuel if they flew on to Manila and were forced to circle for hours while technicians battled to restore the power

The Qantas flight later took off again from Sydney at 11.37pm and successfully reached Manila at 3.53am local time.

It’s understood the delay in returning to the air after landing in Sydney was caused by the long queue for landing slots at Manila Airport when it reopened.

A Qantas spokesman added: ‘All airlines were prevented from arriving into Manila on Sunday afternoon as local authorities closed the local airspace. 

‘This meant our flight from Sydney had to turn around.’

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