View Full Version : Passengers on jumbo terror flight to sue BA

28th Apr 2002, 15:15
Passengers on jumbo terror flight to sue BA

by Joanna Walters, transport editor
Sunday April 28, 2002
The Observer

A group of passengers is set to sue British Airways over their terrifying ordeal when a deranged man seized control of their flight to Nairobi and brought them within seconds of death.
The group of up to 70 Britons is furious that BA settled a multi-million-dollar law suit earlier this month with a dozen Americans who were on the flight on 29 December 2000 - while passengers from the UK have been offered only 2,000 and a free ticket each.

City headhunter and spokesman for the group Nick Reid, 48, who was aboard the jumbo and convinced he was going to die, accused BA of 'callous contempt and disregard' in the way it treated the passengers after they arrived in Kenya and in the 16 months since.

It has not been disclosed how much the 16 US passengers were offered by BA to call off their action for negligence and injury and they have all signed confidentiality agreements.

But it is believed to be substantially higher than the Britons were offered and could be as much as 50 times more each, as the maximum award for negligence in the US is $150,000 (103,000).

Reid and his group accused BA of bias, covering up data and not doing enough to prevent the incident, claiming Kenyan Paul Mukonyi, had been behaving strangely both before boarding and during the flight.

Reid was among 398 passengers on the BA Flight 2069 which also carried pop singer Bryan Ferry, and Jemima Khan and her children.

While most of the passengers were asleep, Mukonyi, then 27, burst into the cockpit and grabbed the controls from the pilot. He forced the Boeing 747-400 into a series of lurches, which sent it diving at 2,000 feet per second. The plane came within four seconds of flipping over into an unrecoverable plunge.

Talking to The Observer, Reid shook as he recalled the terror on Flight 2069, with passengers screaming and shouting goodbyes to loved ones.

Mukonyi was eventually overpowered and the plane brought back under control after heroic feats of recovery-flying by the flight crew.

But while praising the crew, Reid is angry with the airline and claims it offered little assistance to the traumatised passengers when they arrived in Nairobi and has been grudging with information and comfort since.

The settlement with the US passengers is the last straw, he said. While many of the British passengers accepted BA's offer of 2,000, Reid said his group of 70 was seeking counsel in preparation for legal action for negligence.

A British Airways spokeswoman said the US settlement had been made for 'bodily injury' rather than the psychological trauma claimed by the Britons.

But Reid said only four of the US passengers had been taken to hospital with minor injuries and he had evidence that the problems for the others, like many of the British travellers, were related to post traumatic stress disorder.