Cathay Pacific passengers kept inside stranded flight for 16 hours because of limits on crew's working hours

Unplanned stopover in China saw all 256 passengers forced to stay on plane over immigration rules while new crew was sent in
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Passengers on board a stranded Cathay Pacific flight from New York to Hong Kong were kept inside the plane for 16 hours because of limits on the crew's work hours and immigration rules.

Flight 831 was diverted to the southern city of Zhuhai in China on 30 March following a hail storm.

The plane was left sitting on the tarmac for hours until Cathay Pacific sent in a new flight crew, with the first crew having reached work-hour limits.

All 256 passengers were kept on board for the entire time because Chinese immigration and customs regulations at Zhuhai did not allow them to enter the airport, Cathay Pacific said in a statement on Saturday.

According to the local Chinese customs district, Chinese officials worked continuously to accommodate the new 16 crew members, who took a high-speed ferry from Hong Kong and entered China through a Zhuhai port before arriving at the airport.

Customs officials then set up a temporary workplace at the airport, which does not have a permanent customs office, to process the crew members' paperwork before flying the plane out of Zhuhai in the early afternoon of 31 March, the customs district said.

Cathay Pacific said the plane took off at 1.08 pm, more than 16 hours after it landed in Zhuhai. The flight arrived in Hong Kong a little over an hour later.

The flight usually takes 15-16 hours, but this flight turned out to be more than 34 hours long with the stopover.

In January, Ryanair passengers resorted to calling the police after being kept on a plane during an eleven hour delay.

Additional reporting by Associated Press