Dhaka – A Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane carrying PM Sheikh Hasina to Hungary has reached Budapest hours after making an emergency landing in Turkmenistan.
The aircraft touched down at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport at 6:05pm local time (11:05pm BdST) on Sunday, Shakil Meraj, a general manager of the flag.carrier, said. Hasina left Dhaka in Biman’s flight BBC 1011 at 9-45am to attend Budapest Water Summit 2016, bdnews24.com reported.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, LGRD Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud and business representatives are accompanying the prime minister.
The aircraft had to make an emergency landing in Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat around 2:30pm (BdST) due to a ‘technical glitch’.
“A test run was conducted after repairs were made to the aircraft. The plane left the Ashgabat airport with the whole entourage at 6:37pm BdST,” said Shakil, without detailing what the faults were.
“A drop in fuel pressure was detected in one of the engines. So the plane quickly landed at the closest airport in Ashgabat,” Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon was quoted by bdnews24.com as saying. All passengers of the flight were safe, he said.
The prime minister waited for four hours at the VIP lounge at the Ashgabat International Airport, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar said. “Deputy Prime Minister Baymyrat Hojamuhammedov visited her at the lounge after receiving the news of her flight landing at the city’s airport,” he said.
Bangladesh ambassador to Tazikistan Masud Mannan arranged for local protocol and hospitality on being informed by contacting the Tazik authorities, according to a message received via a member of the PM’s team.
In the meantime, a London-bound flight, BG001, was diverted to Turkmenistan, to take the prime minister to Budapest. But the entourage already left Ashgabat on the repaired ‘Ranga Prabhat’, so the ‘Akashpradip’ went back on its route towards Heathrow Airport.
Turkmenistan deputy speaker, chairperson of the parliamentary committee on women affairs, the Indian transport minister visiting Turkmenistan and the Indian high commissioner in Ashgabat met Hasina at the airport.
Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told reporters that she discussed trade with the Turkmenistan leaders in the unofficial meeting.
“Our pilots could sense the glitch much earlier. They informed the prime minister’s personnel immediately after they saw the glitch in a monitor at the cockpit,” a Biman official was quoted to have said on condition of not being named.
“The plane was flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet when its left engine started losing power. It stopped completely 12 to 15 minutes before landing in Turkmenistan,” he added.
He also said he came to know that ‘only tightening some nut-bolts fixed the problem’.
“Two test runs for the engine were held before it resumed the journey with the prime minister on board,” he said.
He blamed negligence in maintenance for the glitch. “How do nut-bolts of a plane carrying the head of the government could get loose!” he exclaimed.
“If any line or pipe burst, it would have taken a long time to fix it. In that case, the repairing tools would have to be brought from Dhaka or any other nearby place because VVIP flights do not carry those tools,” he said.
István Mikola, Minister of State for Security Policy and International Cooperation in Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, welcomed Hasina at the airport.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Hungary M Abu Zafar and Hungarian Ambassador in Dhaka Gyula Petho were also in the reception party.
Mikola greeted the Bangladesh leader with a bouquet when she emerged from the aircraft.
A red carpet was rolled out and a guard of honour given by the Hungarian armed forces at the airport.
A motorcade escorted the prime minister from the airport to Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace where she will be staying.
This is Prime Minister Hasina’s first trip to Hungary. Four memorandums of understanding (MoU) are expected to be signed after bilateral talks with the Hungarian prime minister.
She is scheduled to return to Dhaka on Wednesday.