Financially distressed low-cost airline 1time, is hoping to regain stability through a business rescue plan. File Photo: Matthew Jordaan

A 1time flight from Durban to Cape Town had to make an emergency landing at King Shaka International Airport on Sunday night when one of its engines appeared to malfunction soon after take-off.

At least seven flights out of the airport were delayed and approaching planes were rerouted.

Airports Company of SA spokesman Colin Naidoo said:

“We delayed all flights to ensure the runway had no debris that could damage or affect other flights.”

Among those delayed was a flight from Joburg bringing the Sharks rugby team home after their Super Rugby final in New Zealand. They had been due to land at 7pm, but their plane, was delayed on the tarmac in Joburg. A welcoming committee that included their families waited until after 8.30pm for them at the airport.

No one was hurt in the incident. The plane was about two-thirds full.

Naidoo said it was not clear what caused the 1time plane to signal an emergency landing. It was flying from Durban to Cape Town.

“The Civil Aviation Authority will conduct an investigation into the matter,” he said.

Cape Town journalist Angelique Arde, who was on the flight, said there was a loud bang on one side of the plane soon after take-off.

“The plane continued ascending but it felt like it was gliding. It was evident that something was very wrong,” she said.

After 20 minutes, when the plane was still heading north towards Richards Bay while dumping fuel over the sea, Arde said the pilot told passengers they would make an emergency landing.

He said they should not be worried about the emergency vehicles on the runway as that was routine for an emergency landing. “An automated voice told us to assume the brace position,” she said.

The pilot landed the plane safely and the passengers gave a loud cheer and applauded him.

Passengers were each given a meal voucher and told that they would continue their journey (on another 1time flight) later in the evening.

“It was very calmly handled by the staff,” Arde said.

Nevertheless passengers were shaken by the incident, she said. “I had such a wonderful weekend in Durban… my sister has just had a baby. I kept thinking, please God, I don’t want to die now.”

In 2010, several people were injured when they jumped out of a 1time plane when the pilot ordered an emergency evacuation after one of the plane’s engines started smoking before take-off at OR Tambo International in Joburg.

1time management could not be reached for comment.

The Mercury