The fallout continued Friday evening from the nightmare AeroMexico flight that got stuck in Oakland on Thursday.
People sat on the plane for nearly four hours, until a couple of passengers got arrested.
Panicked cries for help from the pilot can be heard from recordings to air traffic control at Oakland International Airport.
“What I really need is police. Some authorities in here,” an AeroMexico crew member can be heard pleading for help from Oakland International Airport’s air traffic control. The plane pandemonium started Thursday morning when dense fog forced Flight 622 from Guadalajara, Mexico to land in Oakland, instead of San Francisco International Airport.
NBC Bay Area’s chopper flew over the plane as it stayed stuck on the tarmac, for nearly 4 hours.
Cellphone video from inside the plane caught the moment a woman had to be escorted out because of breathing problems. An AeroMexico crew member is heard telling air traffic control — “People on board the plane want out.”
“Sir … I just called two hours ago … So you don’t know what’s happening here. You need someone to die to open the door?” a crew member tells air traffic control.
At one point, the crew member is heard telling air traffic control that one passenger was fed up with the wait and was threatening to get off the plane through an emergency exit. NBC Bay Area’s chopper caught the moment one passenger was taken out in handcuffs.
NBC Bay Area aviation expert Michael McCarron said AeroMexico deserves much of the blame for miscommunication.
“There’s a lot of things that went wrong,” he said. “If the airline knew they were going to be diverted should have made sure that someone could handle them, either another carrier or the airport itself, you can make arrangements like that. The airline should have done a lot better job of communicating with the crew.”
In a statement, AeroMexico said: “Aeromexico does not count on operations from this terminal, which is why we needed to seek the authorization from the airport to disembark the passengers.”
Oakland International Airport said in a statement that it has been reviewing the incident and had arrived at the following conclusions:
- The Airport was fully staffed and prepared to accommodate the extraordinary flight and process deplaning passengers, even though Aeromexico was a visiting — not regular — air carrier at Oakland and even though the arrival was unplanned.
- This occurs regularly, and OAK personnel were available and eager to help, which they did exceptionally, given the multiple facets of the incident, including law enforcement and emergency medical response.
- In this and all cases, a decision to remain on the aircraft or deplane lies strictly between the airline and US Customs & Border Protection for international flights.
Airport officials added: “While we empathize with the passengers on the Aeromexico flight, Oakland International Airport confirms absolutely no shortage of personnel among airport staff nor that of our partners.”