A rather bizarre incident was recorded on April 11, 2020, when Air France had to postpone a repatriation flight from Republic of Congo back to Paris, after the aircraft responsible for this mission, an Airbus A330, was damaged on Sunday by a bullet fired by a gendarme. The incident occurred after the aircraft had landed in Pointe Noire, the second largest city in Republic of Congo.
The flight was eventually postponed for 24 hours so that a replacement airplane, a Boeing 777-200, could arrive to carry out the necessary operation, said the airline. The flight involved in the incident was an Airbus A330-200, registered as F-GZCK. The flight was supposed to spend the night at the airport at Pointe Noire, before operating the repatriation flight back to Paris at 1000hrs local time via Bangui M’Poko International Airport in Central African Republic. The aircraft was expected to bring over 200 French citizens home — roughly half were supposed to come from the Republic of the Congo, and the other half were supposed to come from Bangui.
After the Airbus A330 landed at Pointe-Noire Airport in the evening of April 11 at 1715hrs, it was shot at by a member of the Congolese Armed Forces at about 2300hrs local time. The aircraft was parked at the stand without any passengers on-board at the time of the incident.
Air France later confirmed via Twitter that:
‘The flight scheduled for 10:00 has been postponed for 24 hours to allow a replacement aircraft and a crew to be transported from Paris CDG. Customers have been warned and taken care of by our local teams.’
While the incident is utterly unfortunate, leading to a delay of about 24 hours, it must be noted that no passengers or crew were injured in the event. The gendarme has been taken into custody, and while few reports claim that he was intoxicated, the same cannot be confirmed as of now, as a detailed report of the incident is yet to be released.
Airlines all round the world are taking excruciating efforts to ensure that citizens can safely return to their homes in times of crisis. Incidents like these are indeed grotesque, and one must appreciate the spirit of the crew and management team at Air France. We are following this incident closely for more details.
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