Update 4: EasyJet plane in emergency landing after engine failure
Aircraft to be repaired in Malta, replacement plane to be sent
Updated - Adds EasyJet statement
An EasyJet plane has safely returned to Malta after suffering an engine failure just six minutes into a flight to London Gatwick.
The twin-engined Airbus A320 issued an emergency soon after take-off and turned back.
Malta International Airport deployed fire engines on the taxiway as a precaution.
The plane had 150 passengers on board.
It stopped on the runway while a fire team briefly inspected its left engine. It then taxied away and the runway was reopened. The passengers were disembarked.
It is understood that the plane is one of the newest to join EasyJet and was never serviced in Malta.
Informed sources said it will be repaired in Malta. EasyJet is to send a replacement aircraft which should be on its way to Gatwick at 6.30 p.m.
'A BIT OF A FRIGHT'
A passenger on board the flight, Hubert Paul Farrugia said the experience was ‘a bit of a fright’.
He said that minutes after take off passengers felt thuds like one usually feels when the landing gear is retracted. However the noise continued, and got louder.
Then an announcement was made by the captain that the aircraft had technical issues and was returning to Malta.
He said passengers and crew were calm during the experience.
EasyJet's Corporate Affairs Manager, Andrew McConnell, in a statement said: "We can confirm that flight EZY8824 flying from Malta to London Gatwick returned to Malta International Airport shortly after take off due to a technical issue.
"The Captain took the decision to return to Malta and shut down one engine as a precaution only. The safety of its passengers and crew is easyJet’s highest priority.
"EasyJet is currently flying an aircraft to Malta to fly the passengers home and would like to apologise to the affected passengers for any inconvenience."