Cape Town - Passengers on SA low-cost carrier FlySafair flight FA202 had to endure a terrifying experience when the aircraft depressurised above Bloemfontein, flying from Johannesburg for Cape Town on Friday, 22 January.
No injuries were reported, and the aircraft has since landed back at OR Tambo International Airport, from where it departed.
FlySafair confirmed the incident and said in a statement their crew successfully employed all required safety precautions.
The airline said that most passengers, after the incident, indicated that they wish to continue their journey to Cape Town. They were assigned another aircraft and left OR Tambo for Cape Town International Airport at 12:30.
NOTE: As a result of this we will experience knock on delays to flights: FA202, FA203. Delays of up to 2 hours and 35 minutes will be experienced.
According to a statement issued by FlySafair, crew on flight FA202 noticed a very gradual depressurisation of the cabin as the aircraft was about to pass over Bloemfontein. The captain, known only as A Taljaard, "allowed a moment for a natural adjustment and then decided to implement the required safety precautions," FlySafair said.
"The captain initiated the deployment of oxygen masks before such time as they were required, to ensure that oxygen was available to passengers. Cabin crew initiated their processes to ensure passenger safety and all procedures were followed by the book."
Once all required safety processes had been followed, the captain addressed passengers on the public announcement system to inform them of the procedures that had been activated and the fact that they would be returning to Johannesburg.
The aircraft landed safely at 10:55 and passengers were met by FlySafair staff at OR Tambo. All except three passengers elected to continue to fly on to Cape Town on a back-up aircraft, which was immediately deployed and departed OR Tambo at 12:30.
The airline said it would like to apologise to customers on board the faulty aircraft, and to other flyers for the inconvenience of the delay.
FlySafair says the faulty aircraft underwent "its last check on 25 November 2015", and will now be undergoing a technical inspection to identify the problem.