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French forced to endure London pub in Irkutsk as they are ‘stuck in Siberia’ after emergency landing

By The Siberian Times reporter
14 November 2018

Air France Boeing 777 with 282 on board suffered technical failure, then the rescue aircraft sent from Paris was also grounded.

Air France Boeing made emergency landing in Irkutsk after 'smoke in the cockpit'. Picture: Irkutsk Airport

After 48 hours the ‘tourists’ were become exasperated during their enforced stay in Siberia after ‘smoke in the cockpit’ necessitated an emergency landing of their flight from Paris to Shanghai.

All on board disembarked safely in Irkutsk.  

On November 12 a new Boeing arrived from Paris to bring the passengers to Shanghai, but failed again. 

Going to the second plane Passengers disappointed

Passengers leave the second plane

On November 12 a new Boeing arrived from Paris to bring the passengers to Shanghai, but failed again. Pictures: Corinne Lee, Agnes Le Coroller

The press-service of the airport said: 'Passengers were put on the plane at about 1 am. 

‘The plane was already ready to take off, but at that moment the hydraulic systems failed. 

‘Most likely, this happened because of the cold.' 

The Air France passengers were returned to Soviet-built Angara Hotel, where due to diplomatic restrictions - they did not have Russian visas - they were prevented from venturing beyond the London pub at the hotel. 

Ann Lomberd

Passengers wear light shoes

Passengers go back to the hotel

Passenger Ann Lomberd: ‘But to admit it, after the second unsuccessful departure, we are already disappointed…'. Pictures: KP

Ill luck saw the first winter frosts and temperatures dropping to -18C. 

Local journalists noticed the passengers were dressed in light autumn clothes and shoes. 

Passenger Ann Lomberd said: 'When we had to land in Irkutsk, we thought - well, it happens. 

‘Especially given that here we were well received, and placed in good hotels. 

‘But to admit it, after the second unsuccessful departure, we are already disappointed… 

‘We did not sleep all night, so once again had to return to the hotel.’

Many were ‘worried’ about their work and missed business meetings in China, she said. 

Stuck in Siberia

Stuck in Siberia

Stuck in Siberia

Stuck in Siberia. Season 2. Pictures: Corinne Lee, Michela Rossetti, Agnes Le Coroller

Among those marooned in Irkutsk were the PR team of Louis Vuitton company headed by art director Michela Rossetti.

Agnes Le Coroller even celebrated her birthday in the lobby of her Irkutsk hotel with colleagues Corinne Lee, Bérengère Laeuffer, Christophe Pelé, and Rossetti.

Lee posted: ‘I am still in Siberia (going on 48 hours). Because we don't have Russian visas, we aren't technically allowed to be here. 

‘So we can't take different flights, we can't take our luggage with us, we have been booked hotels but we can't get outside. we are waiting for a new @airfrance plane and a new crew to take us to Shanghai.' 

Back in the pub Back in the pub


Passengers were prevented from venturing beyond the London pub at the hotel. Pictures: Corinne Lee

She went on: 'Back in the pub.... in the same clothes I have been wearing for 48 hours.’

The hostelry was perhaps inappropriately named: London pub.

But she said: 'To all people of Irkutsk... thanks for your messages! Your city is beautiful (and cold) pastedGraphic.png’

She shared the gifts passed her by locals.

The passengers kept their sense of humour - posting a video called: ‘Stuck in Siberia - season two’.

Corinne shared the gifts passed her by locals. Pictures: Corinne Lee



New attempt

Comments (7)

Thanks for finally writing about >French forced to endure London pub in Irkutsk as they are ‘stuck
in Siberia’ after emergency landing
Jasper, Philadelphia
19/11/2020 19:08
Hi folks, I wish I had been stranded with you in Irkustk. Went there many years ago and hope to get back in the future. I loved Irkustk. The nearest I got stranded was on the TransSiberian. At Ulan Ude, I was on the platform practising my Russian with babousku selling hot potatoes on the platform. I got so involved in our conversation that when I turned round, the train was moving on. I was not worried in the least except that I had left my camera on it. So ran quickly to the train door and someone grabbed me but I could have happily stayed behind. While you were stuck, did you learn some Russian????
Chantal Watremez, United Kingdom
30/11/2018 23:14
I was thinking a little bit more about the comments of the passengers in that article ( no visa). Passengers on ships can get off in St. Petersburg for 3 or 4 Days, that is the time the ships stay there, to visit the place, spend money, lots of it, go back to the ship and go back home. They do not go to other places, towns or cities. If that was the case in Irkutsk, Immigration could have easily given every passenger a - pass- for the day or the stay, fair enough they did not know that it would take Air France that long. But even ONE day, think how much money passengers would have spent in town. And TWO days even better. But suppose that means THINKING and extra WORK for the chair stickers and stamp pad protectors. And why should they do that? Old mentality still?
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
19/11/2018 07:43
Yes, no doubt of it, this is a bad reflection on Air France. Mr. Morak is correct, and it is serious. The hydraulic failure that grounded the replacement airplane, could just as well have happened later, resulting in an unrecoverable problem.

Most big airlines fly Polar Great Circle Routes. They should arrange to 'test-land' their planes in Arctic settings. Being 7 miles up is very cold, but it is not the same conditions as ground-level cold, and high-altitude cruise does not "exercise" the aircraft in the ways that take-off, landing & maneuvering does. I certainly 'would think' that major airlines do perform these 'screening-checks' (without passengers onboard), but perhaps this particular plane was not 'Arctic checked', but was available at the moment.

Alaskans will confirm: Machinery destined for arctic duty, needs to be tested under realistic matching conditions. The US military maintains entire extensive base-complexes in Alaska, specifically to perform 'shake-down' and practice-training under actual Far North conditions. The only thing they could do better, would be to use a facility in Yakutia. ;)

Hydraulics are notoriously susceptible to all manner of variables, but especially cold, and transient operations.

Better for the passengers to flag down the TranSiberian Train, and then catch a Cruise Ship at Vladivostok
Ted Clayton, Forks WA, USA
16/11/2018 01:19
There is an old Siberian saying, "When life gives you lemons, just make some lemonade." These people are, they can say the visited Siberia!
Doc, US
15/11/2018 17:17
poor passengers. but the pub for sure will have the best end of the month stocktaking ( and takings) since it opened. Air France though, poor show indeed. ( I remember the time when our passengers were stuck in Dudinka on the Jennisei River. The plane did not even leave Krasnojarsk because of fog. The shipping company organised every local bus they could get hold off. We did an excursion through Norilsk. Got some nice local food in a local restaurant. and had a good time. Lots of free Vodkas. at least the passengers could go back to the ship. the plane was supposed to bring new passengers and take the departing ones back to Krasnoyarsk. From there to Moscow and back home)
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
15/11/2018 08:33
Hello chers compatriotes...quel dommage que vous ne puissiez pas aller voir le lac Baïkal et ses fameux phoques ..d'eau douce ! il faudra revenir en SIbérie. Qu'avez-vous trouvé comme vin ?...Bourgogne , Bordeaux ou autre?? il est comment? ...... Air France vous en doit des caisses....Courage et merci de le prendre avec le sourire...
Please... read Siberian Times news, they are very interesting
Jocelyne, FRANCE --> ile-de France
14/11/2018 19:39

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