Johannesburg - Stormy weather has wreaked havoc on flights this week, resulting in many diverted flights, and delayed landings and take-offs.
On a British Airways flight on Wednesday night, Mabuyane Kekana said she had never experienced such a frightening situation before.
In a hurried Facebook post at 9.54pm, she explained the terrifying moment when the British Airways flight she was on from Cape Town circled around OR Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni as it struggled to land in stormy conditions.
“As we approach to land at OR Tambo the storm says no, pilot aborts landing and flies around Gauteng skies for 40 minutes or so. Second attempt, this time the aircraft is shaking, storm activity is intense.
“I'm saying a small prayer. Pilot aborts landing, we fly up again. Those who know me know that I’m not scared of planes, cars and anything with wheels but this time even I was scared.”
SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said flights had been diverted on Wednesday night because of the extreme thunder and lightning.
He said two inbound flights were diverted to Durban.
“SAA experienced weather-induced delays on its operations on Wednesday evening. A lightning warning was activated at approximately 6.25pm.
“Two of our outbound domestic flights were delayed by up to 40 minutes, and three outbound international flights were delayed by between 36 minutes and one hour. A further two inbound domestic flights were delayed by about two hours and 45 minutes.”
British Airways spokesperson Stephen Forbes said the details of Kekana’s flight were not known but they had been told by Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) that a number of flights were routed to Lanseria on Wednesday due to the storm.
“When a flight is diverted, it has to eventually return to the destination it was heading for,” said Forbes, adding that weather played a crucial part in flight take-offs and landings.
Kekana said the flight eventually left Lanseria at 10.45am to return to OR Tambo but she chose to disembark and phoned her family to fetch her.
“Jomo Sono (soccer club owner and coach) was also on my flight. I was just so relieved to touch down.”
Tlali said the lightning warning was lifted at 7.49pm.
Acsa said eight inbound flights were diverted because of bad weather and low visibility. Normal operations resumed at 10pm.
The South African Weather Service has warned that temperatures would remain high and there was a possibility of storms today.
“There's a chance of thunder showers. There will be a heatwave, which will begin to subside by Tuesday,” said forecaster Lebogang Mashile.