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United Airlines stranded at immigrationless Canberra

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Hvr

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One of Sydney Airport's runways was shut for 35 minutes after a pilot reported seeing debris while coming in to land about 7.40am on Friday.


Sydney Airport spokeswoman Tracy Ong confirmed that Sydney's third runway, running north-south, was closed between 7.45 and 8.20am so the report could be investigated, resulting in the diversion of three flights.


<snip>

Sydney's main runway, a 4.5-kilometre stretch of tarmac also running north-south, was not affected and continued to operate at capacity.


The 35-minute closure resulted in the diversion of one Qantas Airways and two United Airlines flights.


The United Airlines flights were diverted to Canberra because both were coming from Los Angeles and were nearing their fuel limits.


Ms Ong confirmed all flights would be back in Sydney by the afternoon.
The Herald received reports from a passenger on board one of the United Airlines flights, saying they had been parked on the tarmac at Canberra International Airport for more than three hours, were not allowed out of their seats and had to wait for a new crew because their crew was "over time".

If only CBR was a true international airport rather than just taking the name in vain.
 
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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

The 3 pm news said that they are still on the CBR tarmac and have been allowed to stretch their legs out side. They are being given cheese and bickies by QF, and have run out of soap and loo paper. They are still waiting for a QF pilot or two to take them back to SYD. The babies, children and oldies are having a hard time of it, not to mention everybody else.
 

anat0l

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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

Must have been a really critical situation if the only viable choice left for diversion was Canberra.

Sure, better to be on the ground than run out of fuel and be a statistic. But diverting to Canberra will always be a raw deal for pax on international flights.

United is going to get caned for this back at home.
 
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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

And BNE:

United Airlines passengers stranded in Brisbane and Canberra after Sydney runway closure

Must have been a really critical situation if the only viable choice left for diversion was Canberra.

Sure, better to be on the ground than run out of fuel and be a statistic. But diverting to Canberra will always be a raw deal for pax on international flights.

United is going to get caned for this back at home.
 

anat0l

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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

I wonder what the situation is like in BNE. Surely with Customs control there, it would be a slightly easier task, notwithstanding the logistics of hotels, no UA representative in BNE, etc. etc.

The CBR AP spokesperson's statement seems to be in direct conflict with what we would believe could or would have been possible for aircraft like this UA one, its passengers and its crew. Someone lying here, or CBR AP maybe plying a high cost to extricate UA from its situation?

To be completely fair, if a QF aircraft for some reason found itself at an American airport with no CBP controls (and even then) the situation would likely be the same, if not worse. And I don't see the USA as exactly being any more humanitarian (or lack thereof it) to foreigners / foreign aircraft in the same situation.
 

harvyk

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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

Must have been a really critical situation if the only viable choice left for diversion was Canberra.

Sure, better to be on the ground than run out of fuel and be a statistic. But diverting to Canberra will always be a raw deal for pax on international flights.

United is going to get caned for this back at home.
It's not exactly uncommon that we get international diversions, however most of the time they are only here for a couple of hours before continuing on. Absolute worst case scenario, there is actually Customs and AQIS stationed at CBR (they mostly deal with diplomats, they're in the "shed" near the petrol station most of the time), so they can in theory off load a international flight here and process the pax. That said, the vast majority of pax on an international flight don't have CBR as their final destination, so if you did process them in CBR you'd still have the problem with 300 odd pax all needing to still get to SYD (or else where), so for all the hassles it's just as easy to keep them on the aircraft and fly them up to SYD where there is full time Customs / AQIS.
 

anat0l

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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

It's not exactly uncommon that we get international diversions, however most of the time they are only here for a couple of hours before continuing on. Absolute worst case scenario, there is actually Customs and AQIS stationed at CBR (they mostly deal with diplomats, they're in the "shed" near the petrol station most of the time), so they can in theory off load a international flight here and process the pax. That said, the vast majority of pax on an international flight don't have CBR as their final destination, so if you did process them in CBR you'd still have the problem with 300 odd pax all needing to still get to SYD (or else where), so for all the hassles it's just as easy to keep them on the aircraft and fly them up to SYD where there is full time Customs / AQIS.
I guess the implication would be that at least with customs & immigration clearance, it becomes much easier to at least offer forms of aid to passengers, even if it is just to accommodate them in a controlled section of the terminal (since the CBR airport terminal is domestic only). Plus also much easier to provide them food, sanitary provisions and, if it came to it, accommodation in hotels or possible rebooking onto Australian domestic flights to complete the journey. True, this would not be necessarily an easy follow on, since UA has no ground representation in CBR (i.e. to vet the controlled management of all of the passengers on board), so I agree that giving C&I clearance for the sake of it is not necessarily wise, but it does beg to reason there might be a better way to help these people than keep them on the aircraft for some 30+ hours with little more than water, food and sanitary facilities necessary to keep them alive.
 

harvyk

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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

I guess the implication would be that at least with customs & immigration clearance, it becomes much easier to at least offer forms of aid to passengers, even if it is just to accommodate them in a controlled section of the terminal (since the CBR airport terminal is domestic only). Plus also much easier to provide them food, sanitary provisions and, if it came to it, accommodation in hotels or possible rebooking onto Australian domestic flights to complete the journey. True, this would not be necessarily an easy follow on, since UA has no ground representation in CBR (i.e. to vet the controlled management of all of the passengers on board), so I agree that giving C&I clearance for the sake of it is not necessarily wise, but it does beg to reason there might be a better way to help these people than keep them on the aircraft for some 30+ hours with little more than water, food and sanitary facilities necessary to keep them alive.
There is supposedly an international section of CBR terminal down the VA end. I don't know if it's actually able to take international arrivals as yet, and / or how big it is. However I suspect it's not very large and I doubt it would be a comfortable place to wait in any case.

Also yes, the lack of UA ground crew would cause problems, however I'm sure that's nothing that a couple of phone calls couldn't fix.
 
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Phalanger

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They are not allowed to even if they are the same type rating (added to which Qantas has none with this type rating). Plus how would it even help, since UA already has pilots in Sydney?!

I can't beleive some of the "facts" I have seen in the media and on twitter today, like one lady claiming Qantas crew came on board the flight. Others saying there were no refueling abilities (Canberra handles the 777 multiple times per year), or not being allowed through customs (they need all the passengers on the plane in order to fly on).
 

TomVexille

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I wonder how many QF pilots are currently type certified on a 777. I'm picking not many. So that's not a likely scenario.
 

BAM1748

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Better than service I received after a QF A380 broke down, "we'll just be around 40 mins before departing". More than 4 hours later there was almost a mutiny. (lucky I was in J)

Matt
 

TomVexille

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After a long flight and then all day on the tarmac, I'd be happy for a chopper pilot to have a crack!
I'd rather have someone who is familiar with the aircraft, but each to their own I guess.
 

Himeno

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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

It would depend how early they knew about the runway being closed. If the UA aircraft were already in SYD airspace, they might not have had the fuel to make it to MEL or BNE.

There are Customs / AQIS based at CBR, they used to process the flights CBR got from Fiji and would deal with direct cargo flights into CBR. If the staff based at the airport can't handle something, I'm sure they could call in some staff from their HQ buildings down the road.

I was on QF32 in 2009 when storms closed SIN and we had to land at KUL. No one other then the captain was allowed off the aircraft.
When 9/11 happened and US airspace was closed, what happened to the flights coming in from overseas? I'm sure most of them didn't end up where they were meant to. Was QF107 in transit to JFK at the time?

The new terminal at CBR does have an international section on the plans, but I don't think it is fitted out yet. I saw something on their website that they were waiting for a confirmed scheduled international flight to CBR before they would complete the fit out. I'm under the impression that the international area is upstairs somewhere near the VA and QF lounges.
 

OzEire

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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

Services are available but UA may not have wanted to pay for it: once pax are cleared through immigration UA would have to pay for domestic tags/hotels, etc. Probably easier and cheaper in UA's calcs to keep the pax.

Would not have been pleasant onboard, particularly for the guy who missed his SYD-CBR conx flight :)
 

Himeno

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United Airlines passengers spent today on the Tarmac at Canberra after being dirvited. Plane waited all day for some fresh pilots. Pitty United wouldn't let some QANTAS pilots fly their plane back to Sydney.

Passengers furious after United Airlines plane stuck on tarmac in Canberra - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
QF doesn't have any flight crew rated on 777s. VA does.

UA would have contacted CBR ground staff to service the aircraft. The only thing QF would have been involved with is some of their ground equipment (ie, air stairs) being moved over.
 

knasty

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Re: CBR AP takes International flights (temporarily)

I'm these situations with reduced runway availability do long hauls get ATC priority? Wouldn't they have been scheduled to use 16R?
 
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