Indonesian flight grounded over the smell of durian fruit

A flight was grounded in Indonesia after fights broke out over a two-tonne cargo of pungent durian.

Considered the “king of fruits” in many South-east Asian countries, the distinctive odour of durian is very divisive – food writer Richard Sterling once described it as “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock”.

Passengers on the Sriwijaya Air flight from Bengkulu province in Sumatra to Jakarta on November 5 complained to cabin crew after smelling the fruit and refused to board the flight, the ABC reported.

The airline admitted it was carrying more than two tonnes of the smelly fruit and said the smell would dissipate once the plane took off.

A journalist from Indonesia’s Antara news agency was also on board and reported that some passengers had arguments with staff that nearly ended in physical blows.

A decision was made to remove the durian from the cargo hold and the flight took off an hour later than scheduled.

Footage posted by a passenger on Facebook showed passengers watching as the fruit was unloaded.

Sriwijaya Air later released a statement justifying the decision to carry the fruit.

“It’s not illegal to carry durian in a flight as long as it is wrapped properly in accordance with flight regulations — carried inside the hold,” it said.

On Twitter, Indonesian aviation expert Gerry Soejatman ridiculed passenger concerns that the fruit posed a safety threat.

“Three tonnes of durian offloaded from a Sriwijaya Air jet after pax complained of the smell. The problem is, videos circulating where a passenger taking the video accused carrying durian as a safety hazard. Dude, tell me, what glue did you sniff today?” he wrote.

3 tons of durian offloaded from a Sriwijaya Air jet after pax complained of the smell. The problem is, videos circulating where a passenger taking the video accused carrying durian as a safety hazard. Dude, tell me, what glue did you sniff today?

Reportedly, passengers referred to a 2005 Mandala Airlines plane crash in Medan, where 149 people were killed – and a 2.7 tonne load of durian was initially thought to be the cause of the accident.

Observers reported smelling the fruit in the crash, but an examination revealed the take-off weight and centre of gravity met requirements.

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