PETALING JAYA: A Thai AirAsia flight made a safe emergency landing at Velana International Airport in Malé, Maldives after encountering a technical issue just 22 minutes after it took off on Thursday (Sept 5) evening.
According to Maldivian portal The Edition, flight FD178 departing from Velana International Airport to Bangkok, Thailand, returned after an engine caught fire.
Local witnesses claimed that an engine of the plane was on fire when it took flight.
It said a vernacular daily cited a passenger as saying that the fire was put out while the plane was airborne before making the emergency landing.
The pilot informed all 58 passengers of the situation before landing, it said.
AirAsia Group confirmed the incident, saying that the aircraft encountered a technical issue during take-off.
Safety Head Captain Ling Liong Tien said the captain then turned back and requested a priority landing at Velana International Airport, in line with standard operating procedures.
"The aircraft landed safely at 8.41pm local time and underwent an engineering assessment in Malé," he said.
"Our pilots are well-trained to manage these types of incidents and while those on board may have heard a loud bang, there was never any immediate risk to passenger safety," he added.
He added that Flight FD178 was subsequently cancelled and affected guests were provided with hotel accommodation and meals in Malé.
AirAsia also rebooked those affected on alternative flights later that day, he said.