Jetstar, Virgin planes in tarmac bingle at Melbourne Airport

Planes collide at Melbourne Airport

Passengers forced to evacuate after a Virgin flight reversed into a parked Jetstar plane at Melbourne Airport.

It is a sour start to any holiday: backing up the vehicle only to prang into another one.

That's how a Virgin Australia planeload of 175 passengers bound for Maroochydore started their journey when the plane was manoeuvred out of its gate and collided with an empty Jetstar plane on Saturday morning.

Luckily for the passengers, they are not footing the $3 million repair bill.

The incident occurred at Melbourne Airport when the Virgin jet was being pushed onto the tarmac in preparation for take-off about 9.30am.

President of the engineers' union, Paul Cousins, said the Virgin aircraft was pushed back to such an extent that the end of its left-hand wing cut off the tail cone of the Jetstar A320.

And, mirroring a conversation regularly heard in car parks across Australia, Jetstar and Virgin Australia had two versions of events.

A Jetstar statement said its aircraft was stationary when the collision occurred.

Virgin initially reported that both planes were moving but stressed it was still investigating.

Mr Cousins estimated the damage bill to be up to $3 million.

No one was injured in the accident. Passengers were delayed nearly five hours while a new plane was found.

''They were very lucky that the [Virgin plane's] winglet did not go into the auxiliary power unit, which is a small jet engine that runs in the back of the aircraft,'' Mr Cousins said.

'It could have caused that engine to rupture … bits and pieces could have come out it and gone flying everywhere.''

The Jetstar aircraft, which had just landed from Sydney, had pulled up just short of the terminal gate.

It is understood only flight crew were on board.

Virgin Australia spokesman Nathan Scholz confirmed engineers were assessing damage to its Boeing 737-800, which appeared to have sustained ''minor damage'' to its wing tip.

He said the damage bill would not be known until the plane was moved to a hangar for assessment by engineers.

Mr Cousins said the damage to the Jetstar aircraft was significant, and it was likely to be grounded for several days. ''In conservative terms, at the moment we are talking $2 [million] to $3 million for both aircraft,'' he said.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Melbourne Airport, Virgin Australia and Jetstar are all investigating the crash.

Comments