BULAWAYO – Dozens of travellers from Harare including Zimbabwe’s mines minister Winston Chitando were left stranded in Lusaka, Zambia, on Sunday night after a Qatar Airways plane developed a technical fault.
The aircraft declared an emergency on approach to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport with a suspected bird strike on one of the engines.
Fire engines were scrambled, one passenger said.
The passengers waited two hours at the airport before they were put on buses to sleep at local hotels.
Qatar Airways flies a daily service between Doha and Harare via Lusaka. The airline told the passengers they would complete their journeys on the next service on Monday night – disrupting the plans of many of the passengers who had connecting flights and scheduled meetings at their destinations.
The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner performing Flight QR1456 departed Harare at 6.44PM and landed in Lusaka at 7.30PM, according to data from FlightRadar24.
It had been due to depart Lusaka at 9.15PM for Doha, Qatar’s capital, before a technical fault was declared.
Chitando’s presence on the flight to Doha – home to the Al Jazeera news network which has teased with a documentary into alleged gold cartels smuggling minerals worth billions of dollars out of the country – had raised curiosity among his fellow passengers. The Zimbabwe government, with the central bank leading, is attempting to shut down the expose through threats of legal action.
But the minister told ZimLive: “I was enroute to Toronto, Canada, to address a mining conference on Tuesday.”
The minister reportedly cancelled the trip and returned home on Monday.