Developing: A319 skids off runway and catches fire

Authorities in China have launched an investigation after a Tibet Airlines Airbus A319 left the runway and caught fire this morning (May 12).

According to Chinese state media, the jet deviated from its planned course upon departure from Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport. Local broadcasters have said there are no fatalities, although up to 36 people have been taken to hospital to treat minor injuries.

The A319ceo was plying a scheduled early morning service from Chongqing to Nyingchi, a city in southeastern Tibet. A spokesperson for Chongqing/Jiangbei said the aircraft caught fire at 0809hrs local time.

The same aircraft pictured at Shanghai/Hongqiao in 2014
The same aircraft pictured at Shanghai/Hongqiao in 2014 Wikimedia Commons/byeangel

Data from FlightRadar24 suggests Flight TV9833 was operated by B-6425 (c/n 5157), a 2012 vintage which was delivered new to the Asian carrier direct from the OEM. Tibet Airlines has confirmed that the aircraft was carrying 113 passengers and nine crew members, all of whom are accounted for.

Early comments from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) reveal that the flight crew said they suspended the take-off after “detecting abnormities concerning the aircraft”. The narrowbody then veered off the runway, causing at least one of the jet’s engines to come in contact with the ground, sparking the fire. Further details from the CAAC were not immediately available.

Footage circulating on Chinese social media website Weibo shows thick smoke billowing from the front of the aircraft. Passengers can be seen evacuating the jet using the emergency slides.

Tibet Airlines is a subsidiary of flag carrier Air China and has a very good safety record. It operates an all-Airbus fleet comprising more than 30 A320 Family single-aisle jets in addition to five A330 widebodies.

The accident comes at a sensitive time for commercial aviation in China. Alongside stringent COVID-19 travel restrictions curbing movement within parts of the country, authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of a China Eastern Boeing 737-800 which crashed in March killing all 132 people on board.

This is a developing story – we’ll update this page when more information is available.