Sunday, August 18, 2013

Probe launched into Turkish pilot who abandoned flight to protest abduction of colleagues in Lebanon

A probe has been launched into a Turkish Airlines pilot who walked off an Istanbul-Beirut plane just before takeoff early this morning after announcing to passengers that he was protesting the abduction and continued captivity of two Turkish pilots in Lebanon.

Turkish Airlines authorities said in a statement that the company had launched an investigation into the matter following the claims.

The pilot in command, B.G., waited for the plane’s 151 passengers to complete the boarding procedures before announcing in Turkish and English that he would cease his duties and depart the aircraft.

The plane, which was supposed to take off at 1 a.m., had to remain at Atatürk International Airport for another 30 minutes until another captain could be found as a replacement.

On Aug. 9, gunmen ambushed a bus carrying Turkish Airlines crew from Beirut’s international airport to a hotel in the city, snatching pilot Murat Akpınar and co-pilot Murat Ağca.

The group has demanded that Turkey use its influence with Syria’s rebels, who it backs, to secure the release of nine Lebanese Shiites kidnapped in Syria in May 2012.