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Jetstar 787 passengers spend 6 hours on tarmac after diversion

written by Adam Thorn | February 27, 2023

Victor Pody shot this Jetstar 787-8, VH-VKJ

Jetstar passengers were forced to spend six hours on a 787-8 sat on the tarmac at Alice Springs Airport because its domestic terminal is unable to deal with international passengers.

The aircraft was travelling from Thailand to Melbourne when it had to divert to the NT due to a passenger onboard suffering a medical emergency.

The situation was compounded because an electrical fault was detected when the Dreamliner was on the ground, leading to a further delay for a replacement part to be sourced from Sydney.

The incident is eerily similar to an occurrence earlier this month involving a larger Qantas 787-9 sat at Newcastle Airport.

The Jetstar 787-8, VH-VKB, departed from Bangkok at 9:44pm as flight JQ30 on 25 February before the diversion. It didn’t subsequently arrive at the Victorian capital until 11:19pm the next day.


“As a domestic airport, Alice Springs does not have customs processing facilities, and we’ve been working with Border Agencies, the NT Police and the local Airport Authority on the best way to support customers until that replacement aircraft arrives,” a Qantas spokesperson said on Sunday.

Passengers were finally given the opportunity to disembark into a “specially partitioned section” of the terminal at 2pm on Sunday, before the replacement aircraft arrived.

Earlier this month, Qantas passengers were forced to spend seven hours on a 787-9 sat stationary on the runway at Newcastle Airport in a near-identical incident.

The aircraft, VH-ZNJ, was flying from Santiago to Sydney but had to divert to the northern NSW city to avoid a storm.

However, Newcastle is set for a major runway and terminal upgrade that will soon open the door to longer-haul international departures and bigger aircraft.

Australian Aviation reported in April last year how both major political parties committed to funding a $55 million upgrade of Newcastle Airport’s terminal before the federal election to make it ready for longer-haul international flights.

It came after the airport also secured a separate $66 million to rebuild its runway so it could handle heavier and larger wide-body aircraft. The funding was then confirmed in Labor’s federal budget later in 2022.

Newcastle Airport is thought to be on track to be international-ready by 2024, with both airfield and terminal works scheduled for completion early that year.

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