An Australian former flight attendant offloaded herself from three successive Malaysia Airlines flights on which she was due to depart from London Heathrow airport this month, on the grounds that she could smell oil fumes. .

MAS's Heathrow station manager Kevin Jones told Flight International that Lesley Williams was going to be boarded early for the 22:00 departure on 12 June so she could make up her mind about whether to travel at this third attempt, but that if she decided against flying she would not be offered another flight on the same ticket. He says the airline would consider recompensing her for the cost of the flight, which would have been Williams's return journey to Australia.

Williams was one of many flight and cabin crew who gave evidence to the Australian Senate inquiry in 2000 into cabin air contamination and its effect on aircraft safety and health.

Immediately on boarding the aircraft Williams could smell oil, and she says that in all three Boeing 747s she boarded it had been the same. She was informed by MAS that the air conditioning was being provided by the aircraft air conditioning packs supplying external air using ground power, not the auxiliary power unit. She says she believes the air conditioning system must have been contaminated by earlier events involving engine or bleed air. She decided not to fly.

MAS flights from Australia to the UK had been free of oil smells, Williams says, but she adds that her determination not to fly on an aircraft she recognised as contaminated stems from identifying the same smell on boarding a Qantas 747 flight from Heathrow to Australia in August 2004. She decided to fly anyway, and suffered six months' chronic fatigue syndrome before, as she explains it, her system purged itself of the toxins to which she had been subjected. She says she reported the state of affairs to Qantas at the time and the airline promised to get back to her, but it never did.

Source: Flight International