At 300 meters altitude, a superjumbo of Hi Fly flew over Portuguese beaches. This caused a sensation and scared beachgowers. The airline explains what it intended to do with the low-altitude flight of its Airbus A380.
The boss himself was sitting in the cockpit. Carlos Mirpuri, co-founder, co-owner and vice-president of Hi Fly, headed by his brother Paulo as CEO, was captain of the Airbus A380, which took off from Beja last week and then headed for the Algarve. There the aircraft flew over the beaches of Faro and Vilamoura at an altitude of 300 metres.
After a normal maintenance check, the Airbus A380 made a flight to test all functions, tells a spokesman for Hi Fly aeroTELEGRAPH. It lasted about one hour. Many airlines do so. Occasionally, they also keep their pilots’ A380 licenses up with these short flights.
Message to Algarve residents and holidaymakers
This necessary flight of Hi Fly’s A380 was to be combined with a special cause that the Mirpuri brothers focus on for many years, says the spokesperson for Hi Fly. They have been working for years to preserve the endangered coral reefs. And this message is also immortalised on the Airbus A380 with the registration number 9H-MIP.
One side of the greenish superjumbo stands for hope. «Not too late for Coral Reefs», it says, so “It’s not too late”. On the other side the painting is darker, showing a dead reef. «Coral Reefs gone by 2050», it says. On the tail it says, «Which side are you on». Hi Fly’s spokesman said that the low pass over the beaches was a way of getting the message across to Algarve residents and holidaymakers.
Girl began to cry
But not everyone has understood this. Some holidaymakers ran out of the water because of the low level flight. «Everyone on the beach got up and didn’t know what to do», one person present told newspaper Diario de Noticias. Another recalled: «People started running because they saw the plane coming towards them». Some called the police.
And a third bystander said: «We began to believe that the plane was going to crash». One girl even started to cry because she could not escape on her stand-up paddle board in the water. The flight was done «in strict coordination with air traffic control», says Hi Fly.