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Germanwings cancels flight after fatal crash as pilots refuse to fly

Some pilots at German low-cost airline Germanwings refused to fly on Wednesday following the deadly crash of one of the budget airlines' planes in the French Alps, saying they were mourning the victims of the doomed aircraft.

A spokesman for Germanwings’ parent company, Lufthansa, said: "One Germanwings flight has been cancelled because pilots don’t feel they are in a position to fly."

She did not reveal how many pilots had declined to work.


A rescue helicopter flying over the French Alps during a search and rescue operation near the crash site. Photo: Reuters

The Airbus that crashed on Tuesday killing all 144 passengers and six crew was travelling from the Spanish city of Barcelona to the German city of Duesseldorf.

The cancelled flight had been due to fly from Duesseldorf to Barcelona.

Mirror reported that the doomed jet had been grounded for repairs just 24 hours before its fatal last flight.

It quoted a Germanwings spokesman as saying: "The repair was purely to fix a noise that the door was making, and the aircraft was flying again from 10am on Monday."


Search and rescue personnel being lowered from a rescue helicopter to the crash site. Photo: AFP

 

A spokesman for the pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit, Joerg Handwerg, insisted that the decision was not because of safety concerns.

"It has nothing to do with safety. The pilots have friends and colleagues who have died," he said on television.

"That is such a heavy emotional burden that it’s better not to get into the cockpit."


Debris at the crash site. Photo: AFP

 

Already on Tuesday, some pilots were too shocked to fly following the news of the crash.

"We understand their decision," Germanwings executive Thomas Winkelmann had said.

'Black box' recovered

No distress call was received before the plane crashed 2,000m above sea level.

French authorities said one of the two "black box" flight recorders has been recovered. 


Smoke billowing from the debris at the crash site. Photo: AFP

 

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio: "The black box has been damaged. We will have to put it back together in the next few hours to be able to get to the bottom of this tragedy."

Mr Cazeneuve said the fact debris was scattered over a small area of about one and a half hectares showed the plane likely did not explode in the air.


French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (centre) arriving in Seyne, south-eastern France, on Tuesday (March 24). Photo: AFP

 

A large number of the victims are believed to be German and Spanish nationals.

Among them were 16 students and two teachers from Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school returning home after a week-long exchange programme in Spain.


Students gathering at a memorial of flowers and candles in front of Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school in Germany. Photo: AFP

Sources: AFP, Reuters, Mirror

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