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Mon, Nov 03, 2008

Air Europa 737 Skids Off End Of Runway At Lanzarote

Chartered Flight Nearly Ends At The Beach

A chartered Air Europa flight, landing at Lanzarote in the Canary Islands on Sunday, skidded off the end of the runway and down a small embankment, finally coming to a halt next to a perimeter fence overlooking the beach.

The Boeing 737-800 (type shown at right), registration EC-HJQ, was carrying 74 passengers and six crewmembers on a flight from Glasgow to Lanzarote, a popular wintertime destination. Authorities said no one was hurt in the incident, and the aircraft appeared undamaged by the off-runway excursion.

An airport spokesman said, "We can confirm that flight AEA196, chartered by Thomas Cook, was involved in a runway incident this morning. Thomas Cook staff were on hand to assist all passengers," who were taken to their hotels, although without their luggage. It was still aboard the plane.

Passenger Nora McNair, 80, described the ordeal. "We seemed to make a very good landing. Then we were coming along a bit fast and the next thing we knew the plane was rocking from side to side. They had to slam on the brakes and we landed just a few inches from a wall and the sea.

"I don't think anyone realized what was going on. The wheels were smoking when they put on the brakes. The only thing we're a bit annoyed about is we have no luggage. But we're just very lucky that nobody was hurt."

A spokesman for Air Europa said, "There was a problem on landing. The plane came to a halt on the runway past the spot where it should have stopped. All the passengers left the plane and are fine," adding that weather conditions could have been to blame for destabilizing the aircraft as it came in to land.

The jet landed at 8:23 in the morning, and reports indicate the runway may still have been wet from rains in the area the night before.

The airport was closed for several hours while the Boeing 737 was retrieved, and several other inbound flights had to be diverted to the neighboring islands of Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, UKs Daily Express reported. The drama came just two days after emergency services conducted a training exercise simulating a crash at the airport.

Founded in 1986, Air Europa is based in Palma, Mallorca. With a fleet of 32 Boeings and an Airbus A340, its routes include flights to the Canaries and Balearic Islands, and also operates domestic scheduled flights and long-haul services to North America, South America and the Caribbean.

FMI: www.aireuropa.com

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