A Brussels Airlines flight was forced to make a series of diversions after Angolan airspace was unexpectedly closed off. On October 17th, Brussels Airlines flight SN359 was on its descent to Luanda Airport, Angola, when it was informed Angolan airspace was closed due to the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The plane diverted to Kinshasa before passengers had to fly back to Brussels and board another flight, SN1357, to reach Angola. In total, passengers were delayed by more than 24 hours.
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Presidential arrival closes Angolan airspace
Passengers onboard Brussels Airlines flight SN359 from Brussels to Luanda and Kinshasa were unexpectedly diverted from Luanda, precipitating a much longer journey than they would have hoped. Flight SN359 was scheduled to stop at Luanda before continuing onwards to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, while the aircraft was on its descent into Luanda, it was informed that Angolan airspace had been abruptly closed due to the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Brussels Airlines plane skipped its Luanda stop and flew to Kinshasa instead, where it held for around 30 minutes.
By this point, the aircraft could not fly back to Luanda due to fuel reasons, so it landed in Kinshasa. Unfortunately, due to a lack of Kinshasa-Luanda flights, passengers bound for Luanda had to fly back to Brussels before boarding another plane (Flight SN1357) to Luanda the next day.
Speaking to Aviation24.be, Kim Daenen, a spokeswoman for Brussels Airlines said,
“Following the closure of Luanda airspace, passengers on flight SN359 on 17 October were unfortunately forced to return to Brussels. Due to the closure of Luanda airport, our flight remained in a holding pattern for about half an hour. The captain then decided to head for Kinshasa, the second destination of this triangular flight, for fuel reasons.”
Luanda passengers arrived over 24 hours late
Flight SN359 was scheduled to arrive in Luanda at 18:00 WAT on October 17th. However, due to the series of events, passengers ultimately landed in Luanda over a day later on replacement flight SN1357.
Spokeswoman Daenen said,
“We are sorry for the great inconvenience this has caused our passengers. Immediately after the decision to return home, we began to re-accommodate passengers on a flight the next day (yesterday). They arrived in Luanda last night.”
This special flight departed Brussels at 12:37 CEST and arrived in Luanda at 19:32 WAT – a delay of 25 hours 30 minutes.
“Our Operations Centre looked at various options, such as dropping off passengers in Kinshasa, but there are no Kinshasa-Luanda flights. Unfortunately, the only option was to return to Brussels with these passengers.”
Passengers waiting in Luanda were also affected by the delay. These passengers were scheduled on the first flight (SN359), heading to Brussels via Kinshasa. Instead, they boarded flight SN1357 the next day. This flight was operated by an Airbus A330-300 (registration: OO-SFX).
Have you ever been involved in a similar series of diversions and delays? Let us know your experiences in the comments.