Singapore Airlines CEO ‘very sorry’ after pax dies during extreme turbulence

Eric Salard/Creative Commons / Singapore Airlines Facebook

The CEO of Singapore Airlines, Goh Choon Phong, has offered his “deepest apologies” to everyone affected on flight SQ321 between London and Singapore after a man died following severe turbulence.

In a video statement posted on Singapore Airlines’ Facebook page, the airline chief explained the incident, which took place on May 21, 2024, and confirmed the death of one passenger and injuries to multiple others.

Speaking on camera, Goh said SQ321, which was operating from London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Singapore Changi AIrport (SIN), was 10 hours into the 13-hour flight when it encountered “sudden extreme turbulence” over the Irrawaddy Basin at an altitude of 37,000 feet.

The Irrawaddy Basin is located in Myanmar, approximately 2,329 kilometers from Singapore.

The pilot then declared an emergency and diverted the 16-year old B777-300ER aircraft to  Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK).

The man who tragically lost his life has been identified as 73-year-old Geoffrey Kitchen, a British national who suffered a suspected heart attack during the flight. 

In the statement, Goh expressed his condolences to Kitchen’s family, adding that the airline is “very sorry” for the traumatic experience of everyone on board flight SQ321.

Goh added that Singapore Airlines immediately dispatched a team to Bangkok on the evening of May 21, 2024 to assist colleagues and passengers.

143 passengers and crew members who were able to fly boarded a relief flight arranged by the airline and arrived in Singapore at 05:05 local time on May 22, 2024.

Meanwhile, 79 passengers and six crew members, including those injured and receiving medical treatment, as well as their families, currently remain in Bangkok.

Goh said the airline will continue to extend all possible support to passengers and that it is fully cooperating with relevant authorities in carrying out investigations.

The flight carried 211 passengers and 18 crew members.

The nationalities of the passengers are as follows:

  • 56 from Australia
  • 47 from the United Kingdom
  • 41 from Singapore
  • 23 from New Zealand
  • 16 from Malaysia
  • Five from the Philippines
  • Four from Ireland
  • Four from the US
  • Three from India
  • Two from Indonesia
  • Two from Myanmar
  • Two from Spain
  • Two from Canada
  • One from Germany
  • One from Israel
  • One from Iceland
  • One from South Korea
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