Malaysian carrier AirAsia X, which will begin its maiden U.S. service between Kuala Lumpur and Honolulu on Wednesday, said it is investigating an incident that occurred Sunday in which the pilot asked the passengers to pray while the plane was making an emergency return to Perth, Australia.
The Airbus A330, with 359 passengers on board, had taken off from Perth en route to Kuala Lumpur when the passengers heard a loud bang 75 minutes into the flight, according to news reports. The pilots decided to return to Perth with the plane shaking “like a washing machine” and passengers crying, the reports said.
Today, AirAsia X released a statement regarding the incident.
“The safety of our guests and crew is of utmost importance to us,” the airline said. “We are currently conducting an investigation into the cause of the incident together with our engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. We are also cooperating fully with the local aviation authorities.”
Passenger Damien Stevens told CNN that the pilot twice asked passengers to pray, and that for about two minutes during the landing, passengers were told to hold in “the brace position.” He said the landing was smooth and the “plane erupted with applause.”
The low-cost, long-haul airline of the AirAsia Group plans to fly four times a week using a 377-seat Airbus A330 between Kuala Lumpur and Honolulu with a stop in Osaka, Japan. It will the first service between Malaysia and Hawaii.
“AirAsia remains committed to meeting all safety and security requirements in all the countries that we operate in,” AirAsia X said in the statement.