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Flydubai plane crash: airline to give victims’ families $20,000 each

GCAA and flydubai send teams to disaster site in southwestern Russia

  • Wreckage of the crashed flydubai plane at the Rostov-on-Don airport in RussiaImage Credit: AFP/STR
  • People place flowers, candles and toys in memory of the crash victims outside Rostov-On-Don airport, RussiaImage Credit: REUTERS
  • A special prayer was held for the flydubai air crash victims at the Russian Orthodox church in Sharjah. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Emergencies members search the wreckage at the crash site at Rostov-On-Don airport, RussiaImage Credit: REUTERS
  • Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, Ismail Al Hosani of GCAA and James Vile, flydubai at the press conferenceImage Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
  • Emergency workers check the wreckage of crashed flydubai plane at Rostov-on-Don airport, RussiaImage Credit: AP
  • A special prayer was held for flydubai air crash victims at the Russian Orthodox church in Sharjah. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Emergencies workers at the crash site of flydubai plane at the airport of Rostov-On-Don, RussiaImage Credit: REUTERS
  • Emergency employees are seen among the wreckage of crashed flydubai plane at the Rostov-on-Don airportImage Credit: AP
  • Gaith Al Gaith, CEO, flydubai, Ismail Al Hosani of GCAA and James Vile, flydubai at the press conference Image Credit: Gulf News
  • Relatives of victims in the flydubai plane crash in Russia Image Credit: Reuters
  • A vehicle of the Interior Ministry is seen near the airport of Rostov-On-Don Image Credit: Reuters
  • Relatives and acquaintances of victims of the crashed Flydubai flight enter a building of the airport of RostoImage Credit: Reuters
  • Fire trucks are seen among the wreckage of a crashed plane at the Rostov-on-Don airporImage Credit: AP
  • A psychologist of the Russian Emergencies Ministry (L) speaks with a relative (C) of a victim of flydubai crasImage Credit: Reuters
  • A psychologist of the Russian Emergencies Ministry (L) sits next to a relative of a victim of the crashed FlydImage Credit: Reuters
  • Members of operative services are seen at the airport of Rostov-On-DonImage Credit: Reuters
  • Journalists watch news on the crashed Flydubai Boeing 737-800 at the airport of Rostov-On-Don, RussiaImage Credit: Reuters
  • Russian emergency trucks are seen near the area of the plane crash at the Rostov-on-Don airport Image Credit: AP
  • File photo of FlyDubai archiveImage Credit: Gulf News Archive

Moscow: Flydubai said on Saturday that it will organise a "programme of hardship payments" of $20,000 to each victims' families to address their immediate financial needs.

The Dubai airliner with 62 people on board nosedived and exploded in a giant fireball early on Saturday while trying to land in strong winds in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing all aboard, officials said. 

"At present, our priority is to identify and contact the families of those lost in today’s tragic accident and provide immediate support to those affected. flydubai will additionally organise a programme of hardship payments to the families amounting to $20,000 per passenger, in accordance with our Conditions of Carriage, with the aim of addressing immediate financial needs," a flydubai spokesperson said.

Flydubai to confirm passengers' names

Flydubai will release the names of those on board fatal flight FZ981 after it has contacted the families of the 62 passengers and crew members on board, the airline said late on Saturday.
In an emailed statement, the airline said: “Our priority is the extension of all possible care and respect to the families of the passengers and crew of flight FZ981.”

Click for detailed infographic about the crash

“We are currently in the process of contacting all families that have lost loved ones as a result of this tragic accident. It is a process that will take a little time but as a mark of respect to the families of the bereaved, we want to make every effort to inform them directly prior to releasing the full passenger manifest.”
A list of names of all 55 passengers on board, including 4 children, was released on Saturday morning by Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry. Flydubai has said the passengers were 44 Russians, 8 Ukrainians, 2 Indians and 1 Uzbekistani. A full list of names and some nationalities of crew members was also released by the ministry.
The Russian Embassy in the United Arab Emirates, flydubai and the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) later confirmed the nationalities of crew members, including pilots. They were 2 Spaniards and one each from Russia, Columbia, Cyprus and Kyrgyzstan.

Flight recorders recovered

The flight data recorder and cockpit data recorder from the flydubai plane that crashed on Saturday have been recovered by the local accident investigation team at the crash site in Russia, Flydubai confirmed in a Facebook post.
Russia's Emergencies Ministry said most of the passengers were Russians, and seven crew members of various nationalities. Flydubai confirmed that there were no survivors and said four children were among those killed.

The powerful explosion pulverised the plane but investigators quickly recovered both flight recorders. The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known, but officials and experts pointed at a sudden gust of wind as a possible reason. 

Flydubai sees first tragedy

"Our primary concern is for the families of the passengers and crew who were on board. Everyone at flydubai is in deep shock and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those involved," said CEO Gaith Al Gaith. The airline said it was in the process of contacting all families of the victims. 

No distress call made

Al Gaith said that the pilots, who were from Cyprus and Spain, hadn't issued any distress signal before the crash. They had 5,965 and 5,769 hours of flying time respectively, making them "quite experienced," Al Gaith added. The cabin crew included two Russians and citizens of Seychelles, Colombia and Kyrgyzstan.
“I can confirm a far as I can see there was no distress call,” Al Ghaith said at a press conference in Dubai on Saturday.
The aircraft, a five year old Boeing 737-800, went through a heavy maintenance check just two months ago, Al Ghaith also said. The flight departed Dubai International at 12:20am on Saturday. The accident occured at 4:50am Dubai time.
There were 55 passengers and 7 crew members on board. The nationalities of the passengers have been confirmed as 44 Russians, 8 Ukrainians, 2 Indians and 1 Uzbekistani. Of the passengers 33 were women, 18 were men and 4 were children. 
The United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said there were 2 female and 5 male crew members. Their nationalities were 1 Cypriot, 2 Spaniard, 1 Russian, 1 Seychellois, and 1 Columbian and 1 Kyrgyzstani. It is understood the pilots were Cypriot and Spanish.
The GCAA has sent a four-person team to Moscow who will then travel onwards to Rostov-on-Don to assist Russian authorities in the investigation into the incident, GCAA assistant director general for air accident investigation Ismail Al Hosani  said.
Flydubai has sent an emergency response team directly to the site, Al Ghaith said.
The flydubai chief declined to comment on what might have caused the accident, telling reporters it was too early to speculate.
“We cannot judge right now what has happened until our team get the full information about the incident,” he said. Al Hosani said the GCAA isn’t ruling anything out.

Strong winds eyed as cause of crash

Rostov regional Governor Vasily Golubev said that "by all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level."
According to the weather data reported by Russian state television, winds at ground level weren't dangerously strong at the moment of the crash, but at an altitude of 500 metres (1,640 feet) and higher they reached a near-hurricane speed of around 30 meters per second (67 miles per hour).
Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, told The Associated Press that the plane missed its approach then entered a holding pattern.
According to Flightradar24, the plane circled for about two hours before making another landing attempt. It said a Russian Aeroflot plane scheduled to land around the same time made three landing attempts but then diverted to another airport.
According to its data, the plane began climbing again after a go-around when it suddenly started to fall with vertical speed of up to 6,400 metres per minute (21,000 feet/min).
The closed-circuit TV footage showed the plane going down in a steep angle and exploding.

Al Gaith said the plane attempted to land in line with established procedures.
"As far as we know the airport was open and we were good to operate," he said, adding that they couldn't have landed without air traffic controllers' permission.
Al Gaith said the pilots hadn't issued any distress call and hadn't attempted to divert to an alternate airport.
"It was an uncontrollable fall," said Sergei Kruglikov, a veteran Russian pilot, said on Russian state television. He said that a sudden change in wind speed and direction could have caused the wings to abruptly lose their lifting power.
He said that the pilots would have understood seconds before the crash that they were going to die, but "passengers and the cabin crew likely didn't realise they were facing imminent death."
Pilot Vitaly Sokolovsky told Rossiya 24 television that a sudden gust of wind could be particularly dangerous at low altitude while the plane was flying slowly at low power and the pilot was throttling up the engines to make another run.
President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to the victims' families and top Russian Cabinet officials flew to the crash site to oversee the investigation.
In a statement expressing "shock and grief," Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades confirmed that the pilot was a Cypriot national, Aristos Socratous from Limassol.
Officials said the plane and bodies of the victims were torn into small pieces by the powerful blast, making identification difficult. Investigators said they were working on the plane's cockpit conversation recorder and another one recording parameters of the flight.

UAE leaders offer condolences

Abu Dhabi: President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in a cable, has extended condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the victims of the flydubai plane crash which took place on Saturday morning while it was attempting to land at Rostov-on-Don Airport in Russia.

Shaikh Khalifa expressed his sincere condolences and sympathy to the Russian president, the friendly people of Russia and the families of the tragic accident.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, sent two similar cables to President Putin.

The crew

The crew: 1. Sokratous Aristos; 2. Alava Cruz Alejandro; 3. Curbelo Caro Javier Alejandro; 4. Yadrus Maxim; 5. Confait Alex Dominic Yoram; 6. Delacruz Laura Patrizia; 7. Nazirdinova Zhulduz. Supplied


The pilots on board have flown a combined 10,000 hours. They were experienced pilots. There were 2 Russian crew members on board. 

Al Gaith said they have activated their "go team" who are on their way to the site. 

"We believe that there are no survivors flight FZ 981. As I speak members of our team are contacting the families of passengers and crew who were on board,” he said.

Al Gaith has confirmed nationalities on board fatal flight: 44 Russians, 8 Ukrainians, 2 Indians, 1 Uzbekistani. 

"Our primary concern is for the passenger and crew invoked at this stage. Everyone in our company is in deep shock. Our hearts go out to all those love ones involved," said Al Gaith.

"We are still in the process of gathering information,' he said. 

Gaith Al Gaith, CEO, flydubai, Ismail Al Hosani of GCAA and James Vile, flydubai brief the media on the crash of flydubai plane in Russia.

Indian victims identified

Two Indians among those killed in the flydubai plane crash in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, have been identified, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Friday.

He said the Indian embassy in Moscow got this information from the list put out by the Russian authorities.

Swarup said the two Indians that appear on the list are Anju Kathirvel Aiyappan and Mohan Shyam.

No Emiratis in the crashed flight

There were no Emiratis travelling on the flydubai flight that crashed in Russia today morning, according to Russian Ambassador to the UAE Alexander Efimov.

"Among the dead passengers 44 are from Russia, eight Ukrainian, two Indian and one from Uzbekistan. There are no Emiratis according to our preliminary information," he said speaking to Gulf News at Russian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

The dead crew members include one each from Russia, Cyprus, Columbia, Seychelles, Kyrgyz Republic and two from Spain.

"Our deepest condolences to the family members of the victims. We are trying to assist them in this difficult situation," he said.

The pilots are from Cyprus and Spain, he added.

Plane crashed about 250m short of runway

Vasily Golubev, governor of the Rostov region some 950 km south of Moscow, said the plane crashed about 250 metres short of the runway. Golubev said: “The cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level.”

Shaikh Mohammad offers condolences




One of the two flight data recorders was found at the crash site, and the search for the second one is ongoing, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Of the seven crew members, one was from Cyprus, two from Spain, one Colombian, one Seychelles and one from Kyrgyz Republic, said Alexander Efimov. Russian ambassador to the UAE. It was earlier reported that one of the crew member was Russian. 

Boeing ready to provide assistance

US plane maker Boeing says it is ready to provide assistance to the investigation into the fatal flydubai crash in Russia.

“Boeing’s thoughts and prayers are with those on board flydubai flight FZ981 and their families and friends. Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance upon the request of government agencies conducting the investigation,” Boeing said in a statement on its website.

Flydubai confirms number of dead

All 55 passengers on board the flydubai flight that crashed and exploded in Russia on Saturday have perished, the airline has confirmed.

The flight crashed at Rostov-on-Don airport in southwestern Russia when it was reportedly trying to land for a second time in bad weather conditions.

“flydubai very much regrets to confirm that the accident involving flight number FZ981 at Rostov-on-Don earlier today has resulted in 55 passenger fatalities,” the airline said in a facebook post.

Of the passengers, 33 were women, 18 were men and four were children.

There were 62 people on board, including 7 crew members. The airline has not commented on crew members, however, earlier said it believes all 62 on board the flight were killed in the accident.

A Russian ministry has said all 62 are dead.

A flydubai emergency team is en route to Rostov-on-Don, the airline said.

Russian air disasters of past decade

A look at notable disasters over the past decade involving Russian planes or foreign planes:

  1. March 19, 2016: A Boeing 737-800 flown by flydubai crashes while landing at Rostov-on-Don, killing all 62 aboard.
  2. October 31, 2015: An onboard bomb destroys a Metrojet airliner soon after taking off from Egypt's Sharm al-Sheikh resort. All 244 people aboard die.
  3. November 17, 2013: All 50 people aboard a Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 are killed when the crew sends the plane into a steep dive while trying to land in Kazan.
  4. May 10, 2012: A Sukhoi Superjet on a demonstration flight for potential buyers smashes into a volcano in Indonesia with 45 people aboard. There are no survivors.
  5. April 2, 2012: A UTAir ATR-72 crashes shortly after takeoff from Tyumen" 33 are killed, 10 survive. Poor de-icing of the plane is blamed.
  6. September 7, 2011: A Yak-42 carrying the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team crashes soon after takeoff from Yaroslavl, killing all 44 aboard.
  7. June 20, 2011: Forty-seven people die when a Tu-134 crashes on a highway in heavy fog in heavy fog while trying to land in Petrozavodsk.
  8. April 10, 2010: A Polish government plane carrying President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others crashes while attempting to land in Smolensk" all die. Warsaw and Moscow continue to dispute whether the crew ignored poor weather conditions or if air-traffic controllers gave poor gudance.
  9. September 14, 2008: 88 people are killed when a Boeing 737-500 flying from Moscow crashes as it prepares to land in the Russian city of Perm.
  10. August 24, 2008: a Boeing 737-500 carrying 90 people, including a Kyrgyz high-school sports team, crashes shortly after takeoff near the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, killing 65.
  11. August 22, 2006: A Tupolev Tu-154 of Russia's Pulkovo Airlines with about 170 people aboard crashes in Ukraine en route from a Russian resort to St. Petersburg. All on board are killed.
  12. July 9, 2006: At least 124 people die when an Airbus A-310 of the Russian company S7 skids off the runway in the Siberian city of Irkutsk and bursts into flames.
  13. May 3, 2006: An A-320 of the Armenian airline Armavia crashes into the Black Sea while trying to land in the Russian resort city of Sochi in rough weather, killing all 113 people aboard.


Airport of flydubai crash closed until Sunday

Rustov-on-Don airport has been closed until Sunday morning, according to Russian news outlet sputnik news.

Shaikh Ahmad leading crisis management

Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, is leading the crisis management process at flydubai’s operations room, according to a Dubai Media Office tweet.




Shaikh Ahmad is chairman of flydubai and chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and Group.

UAE aviation authority to investigate flydubai disaster

The United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) will take part in an investigation to determine the cause of Saturday’s fatal flydubai flight in Russia. Meanwhile, a Russian agency has reportedly opened a criminal case looking into the disaster.

“Being the responsible body for the investigation into air accidents in the UAE, the Air Accident Investigation Unit of the GCAA will participate in the investigation by Accredited Representative and Advisors who have been deployed to work closely with the Russian authorities to conduct the investigation according to the international standards." Saif Mohamad Al Suwaidi, GCAA Director General, said in an emailed statement.

"We are extremely sad over this tragic accident, and extend our sincere sympathy to all the families and their loved ones,” said Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the GCAA.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case for “violation of air safety rules,” the Wall Street Journal reports.


Russian consulate comments

Ayna Charnova, Vice-Consul at the Consilate-General of Russia in Dubai said that the consulate has set up an emergency number for any assistance to relatives of the crash. "We are in contact with flyDubai and with local airport authorities here. We will be in contact with the relatives of the passengers onboard the flight. We are ready to give all consular and visa support to the relatives on an urgent basis," Ayana told Gulf News

Relatives may call the consulate's emergency line at 971504547754.

List of passengers on the ill-fated flight


Flydubai confirms 62 on board tragic flight

The flydubai flight that crashed in Russia on Saturday was carrying 55 passengers and 7 crew members on board, the airline has confirmed.

Of the 55 passengers, 33 were women, 18 were men and 4 were children, flydubai said in a statement on Saturday. The airline believes there are no survivors.

The Russian government had earlier released the passenger manifest for the flight that said there were 62 on board the fatal flight.

Flydubai says it is working with Russian emergency services and other agencies on the scene of the accident at Rustov-on-Don airport in southwestern Russia.

Flight FZ981 crashed and exploded while trying to land at the Russian airport. The aircraft was reportedly making its second attempt to land at the airport due to poor weather conditions.

Flydubai chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith says the airlines primary concern is for the families of the passengers and crew who were on board flight FZ981.



Statement by flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith regarding FZ981

Statement by flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith regarding FZ981 from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don 19 March 2016Posted by flydubai on Friday, March 18, 2016


“Everyone at flydubai is in deep shock and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those involved. We don’t yet know all the details of the accident but we are working closely with the authorities to establish the cause. We are making every effort to care for those affected and will provide assistance to the loved ones of those on board,” he said in a statement.

Worst accident in flydubai history

Saturday’s accident is the worst in airline's short history. flydubai started operations in 2009 and has had few notable safety incidents. In 2015, a flydubai aircraft was shot at while landing at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. The airline and other Emirati carriers suspended flights to the Iraqi capital shortly after the incident.

'Rough weather'

The plane was making its second attempt to land in bad weather when it missed the runway, erupting in a huge fireball as it crashed and leaving debris scattered across a wide area, reported AFP




Weather has been described as rough at the time a Boeing 737-800 with 61 passengers and crew crashed in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing all on board.

Rostov-on-Don was blanketed in rain showers and weather forecasters said winds there reached up to 50 kilometers per hour on Saturday morning.

FlightRadar24, a flight-tracking website, showed the flydubai flight made a series of loops near Rostov on Don while apparently waiting for permission to land.


Airline offers helpline for relatives

Flydubai has offered phone numbers for those affected by the disaster to call.

The airline says those worried about their loved ones could call " 44 203 4508 853 or "971 4 293 4100.

It earlier acknowledged its flight to Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia crashed early Saturday morning.

The carrier has offered no preliminary cause for the crash. Russian officials say all 55 passengers and six crew aboard were killed.

Winds were anywhere from 14 to 22 meters per second (30-50 miles per hour) at the time of the crash and that there was light rain, reports AP.


A map showing the route of the FZ981


Flydubai opens hotline for victims' relatives 

“Flydubai regrets to confirm that flight FZ981 crashed on landing and that fatalities have been confirmed as a result of this tragic accident,” a flydubai spokesperson told Gulf News by email on Sunday.

"During the landing approach, a Boeing-737 crashed. It had 55 passengers on board. All of them died," a regional spokesman told the Russian news agency TASS, according to the RT network.

Flydubai said any concerned families or friends should call : +442034508853 or +97142934100

Flight FZ981 departed Dubai at 10.20pm local time with the accident taking place at 4.50am local Dubai time, flydubai said.

Boeing issued a one line statement on Sunday stating the US plane-maker was looking into the accident.

“We're aware of the reports and our team is gathering more details,” a spokesperson told Gulf News by email.

Flydubai, who started operations in 2009, operates a fleet of 50 Boeing 737-300s.

The airline said it would share more information as it comes available.

“We are doing all we can to gather information as quickly as possible. At this moment our thoughts and prayers are with our passengers and our crew who were on board the aircraft.”

“We will do everything we can to help those who have been affected by this accident. We are putting our emergency response in place and we will be working closely with all the authorities involved.”

“We will share as much information as possible just as soon as we can and we will provide updated information on a regular basis.”

Flydubai changed its Facebook profile photo on Saturday to a image of its name written in black against a white background. In December 2014, Air Asia changed its logo to grey on social media after the disappearance of one of its aircraft flying from Indonesia to Singapore. The aircraft was later found to have crashed into the sea. All 54 on board perished in the accident.

Inputs from staff reporters Alexander Cornwell, Fareed Rahman and Janice Ponce de Leon, and agencies

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