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Wed 25 Nov 2009 12:20 PM

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Saudi, Dubai flights hit by toilet malfunction

Airbus, Cathay Pacific launch investigation after three flights hit in 11 days.

An Airbus flight from Saudi Arabia to Hong Kong with 278 passengers on board had to be diverted to Mumbai, India after malfunctions in all 10 onboard toilets, it was reported on Wednesday.

Airbus said it was investigating a number of toilet blockages on Cathay Pacific planes, including another flight from Dubai which was forced to trim passenger numbers when it was discovered that some toilets were not working, Indian-based DPA news agency reported.

Toilets on the Hong Kong-based airline's A330 and A340 Airbus aircraft have become blocked three times in the space of 11 days in November.

A flight from Riyadh to Hong Kong on November 17 had to divert to Mumbai when flight attendants discovered none of the 10 toilets on board were working.

The diversion resulted in an 18-hour delay for repairs and a crew change for what should have been a routine eight-hour flight. Passengers received an apology and vouchers as compensation.

Two other Hong Kong-bound flights - one from Rome on November 9 and another from Dubai on November 19 - had to cut passenger numbers due to blocked toilets.

Cathay Pacific and Airbus both said they were unsure about the exact cause of the blockages but an airline spokeswoman told the news agency investigations were continuing.

Cathay Pacific regulations stipulate planes should have a minimum of one toilet per 80 passengers.

Engineers are now fitting new pipes and carrying out deep-cleaning treatment on the toilets of its entire fleet, starting with its worst-hit 15 Airbus A340s and 32 Airbus A330s.

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