UPDATED: Norwegian Air’s non-stop overnight flight from Oakland, California to Oslo made an emergency landing back in Oakland late Saturday, after its cockpit crew were warned of an oil leak. “We don’t dare fly over the Atlantic,” the captain of Nowegian’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner told passengers, according to a reporter for Norway’s national television channel TV2 who was among those on board.
TV2 reported Sunday that the flight had taken off from Oakland on Saturday with several hundred passengers on board, due to land in Oslo on Sunday. Around two hours into the flight, TV2’s Robert Henriksen noticed that the aircraft made an abrupt U-turn on the live flight map he was watching.
Henriksen told TV2 that flight crew members quickly gathered at the rear of the aircraft. Then the captain announced that cockpit instruments warned of an oil leak and he’d decided to return to Oakland. “When we landed, the runway was full of fire trucks,” Henriksen told TV2.
One engine shut down
The large aircraft landed with one of its engines shut down. “It’s correct that there was an indication of an error in the one engine,” Norwegian Air spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen told TV2. “When you get such an indication, you follow the safety regulations and return to the airport.”
The hundreds of passengers and crew on board the Norwegian flight were still stranded in Oakland on Sunday. Most of them were left trying to sleep on the floor of the Oakland International Airport after Norwegian Air failed to find hotel rooms for all of them. “Some people got hotel tooms, others are spending the night at the airport without anywhere nearby to even buy food,” another passenger on the flight, Tora Skog, told TV2.
On Monday, Norwegian’s own website was indicating that the flight was due to finally land at around 2am on Tuesday. Norwegian’s communication was confusing at best, though, showing that Monday’s departure from Oakland to Oslo was cancelled and then “further delayed” because of “technical issues. Your new estimated departure is July 25 (Tuesday) at 7:30am.” The airline also wrote late Sunday night that it was still “sorry to inform that we are experiencing difficulties obtaining hotel rooms in the area.”
TV2 reported late Sunday that Norwegian also stranded more passengers in the US during the weekend, with its Sunday morning flight from Providence, Rhode Island to Bergen delayed with initially no new estimated departure time. Additional Norwegian Air flights from Oslo to Cyprus and to Malaga also had to turn around and return to Oslo because of technical problems. A beleaguered Norwegian spokesman claimed that “we understand very well that it’s frustrating with delays, but safety must always come first.”
Rough summer for Norwegian
It’s the latest in a long string of problems for Norwegian Air this summer. “We have had an unplanned safety landing and are doing all we can to help passengers with hotel rooms,” responded Sandaker-Nielsen. “It’s difficult to get enough available rooms right now, but we’re doing all we can.”
As in several earlier cases of cancelled flights, that’s not enough for passengers involved. Norwegian Air has no airline partners and little if any back-up plans or reserve aircraft for when things go wrong. Sandaker-Nielsen said he “unfortunately” had no idea when the stranded passengers would be provided with alternative transport to Oslo. He said the flight would be at least 12 hours delayed, with no new departure time set as of early Sunday afternoon Oslo time.