Law firm Irwin Mitchell says it has been instructed by passengers who were on a Maleth Aero flight that hit severe turbulence just before Christmas, resulting in 11 people being injured and the flight re-routing to Bermuda.
The aircraft had been chartered by P&O Cruises to fly guests returning from Barbados to the UK.
Maleth Aero Flight 1975, which had 225 passengers and 13 crew onboard, was on its way to Manchester from Barbados on 23 December 2023, when it hit severe turbulence in a tropical storm two-and-a-half hours after take-off and had to land in Bermuda.
The plane, which had taken off an hour late from Barbados, had been expected to land in Manchester at 6am on 24 December.
Instead, passengers were put up in hotels on Bermuda – where they spent Christmas Day – while the aircraft underwent checks and the return flight took off on Boxing Day evening, arriving in Manchester on the morning of 27 December.
Irwin Mitchell said it’s been instructed by ‘several’ passengers, although it did not reveal the exact figure. It said the process is in the very early stages and its investigations will involve reviewing the available evidence, including any reports prepared by aviation authorities.
Associate Solicitor Daniel Matchett said: “The first-hand accounts we’ve heard from the passengers we have spoken to who were caught up in this dramatic incident are extremely concerning.
“This was clearly a terrifying incident for all onboard. Those passengers who have approached us have suffered a range of injuries including orthopaedic injury and emotional trauma.
“Airlines have a legal duty to ensure the safety of their passengers. Understandably, the passengers who have approached us have a number of questions over how the incident occurred.
“We are aware that this incident is being investigated by aviation accident investigation authorities and we look forward to learning the results of those investigations.
“We’re determined to support the passengers involved in this distressing incident and to help establish the answers they deserve, with a view to establishing whether anything can be done to avoid such incidents occurring again.”
P&O Cruises has chartered Maleth, in addition to its TUI charters, to carry Gatwick and Manchester passengers to and from Antigua and Barbados this winter.
P&O Cruises declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Maleth Aero issued the following comment to Travel Gossip: “Maleth Aero is committed to providing a safe and secure environment onboard its aircraft and has a long history of exceeding regulatory requirements. The and safety of its passengers and crew is the focus of every flight as safety is our number one priority. The aviation industry is a heavily controlled and regulated industry in order to provide the safest flight operations. Maleth Aero adheres to the highest of these safety standards and holds EU and UK approvals and IOSA accreditation, all of which are achieved following rigorous operational and safety audits by national government and international organisations, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“On 23 December 2023 one of our aircraft experienced unexpected turbulence, and a medical diversion to Bermuda was required. Maleth Aero worked closely with the medical and aviation authorities as well as the aircraft manufacturer to make certain the required safety checks were carried out prior to the aircraft re-entering active service. Each aspect of the aircraft’s return to service was coordinated closely with authorities and manufacturers as is required in accordance with our protocols. It was especially unfortunate that this event disrupted our passenger’s holiday travels. Flying our customers safely and on time remains the core value and absolute priority of Maleth Aero.”