Israeli plane diverts to Slovakia over oxygen problem
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Israeli plane diverts to Slovakia over oxygen problem

IsraAir passengers describe fear and confusion as masks came down with no explanations from crew; company insists landing was not an emergency

Illustrative photo of an Israir plane on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport, August 3, 2013 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an Israir plane on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport, August 3, 2013 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A chartered Israir flight from Warsaw to Tel Aviv was forced to land in Slovakia Monday after suffering problems with its oxygen supply, according to reports in Hebrew media.

The plane, which according to The Marker was leased to Israir by a Czech lowcost company, landed safely in the city of Kosice, and passengers later boarded another flight to Israel.

Passengers described an emergency situation, saying said they were forced to wear oxygen masks as the plane descended and were kept in the dark as to the nature of the problem for a lengthy period of time.

Passenger Orly Zeevi told the NRG website: “We began feeling suffocated and a lack of air, the masks came down and there was mass hysteria. No one told us what was going on…we felt we were going to die any second.

“Only after about 15 minutes the pilot, who apparently wasn’t even Israeli, spoke to us in English and said we were landing,” she recounted. “Those 15 minutes in which no one was telling us what was happening were an eternity for me.”

Another unnamed passenger told The Marker: “If we knew we were buying Israir’s record and getting a foreign airline’s ramshackle plane, we would have thought twice before boarding.”

Israir denied an emergency landing had taken place, saying the plane’s crew “identified a suspected pressurization problem. The crew decided not to continue [the flight] and diverted to a regular landing in Kosice airport. The plane landed a regular landing and there was no danger to the passengers or the plane.”

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