Hundreds of passengers onboard a Qantas flight from Singapore to London will likely be spending Christmas in hotel rooms in Azerbaijan, rather than at home with their families after an emergency landing forced their flight to divert to Baku.
The Qantas A380, which can carry as many as 480 people declared an emergency while flying over Georgia at 33,000 feet, before turning around and landing at Heydar Aliyev International Airport.
In a statement, Qantas said the crew decided to divert out of an abundance of caution.
"The aircraft intermittently alerted the pilots to the potential of smoke in the cargo hold. Although it was considered likely to be a sensor fault, the aircraft diverted to Baku as a safety precaution. Initial investigations have found no evidence of smoke in the cargo hold."
James Cherry was travelling home with his wife and 6-month-old son after spending two months in Aotearoa.
He told Newshub he was waiting to find out from the airline what plans they had to get customers to their destination.
"We are really pleased our safety has been prioritised but it's really frustrating not knowing what will happen next and how long we'll be in Baku. Communication from Qantas has not been forthcoming and this makes the situation very frustrating," he said.
In a message to passengers, Qantas said it had arranged hotel accommodation and was "working to make the visa process for entry into Azerbaijan as seamless as possible."
Qantas said it was in the process of getting regulatory approval to send a replacement aircraft from Sydney, and was looking at sourcing engineering staff from its base in London.