We have received an eye-witness account from a musician who was on the British Airways flight to Sao Paolo from which members of the Svetlanov Orchestra (artistic director Vladimir Jurowsky) were removed at Heathrow Airport. The orchestra itself has blamed BA for harsh measures. British Airways has declined to comment.
Here is unedited testimony from the musician, who has requested anonymity.
Hi Norman; well, we were told by the captain that there would be a delay due to some unspecified passenger problem……
Then the police turned up and according to one of the stewardesses there were some drunk Russian musicians who were being escorted off the plane. The number 41 was mentioned……. After a short delay, they left the plane with no trouble apart from a couple of of slightly rowdy characters who were clearly intoxicated……
After they left, the captain explained more fully: two of the group were drunk and abusive to staff and other passengers on the flight from Moscow, yet somehow had managed to be allowed on the São Paulo flight. The Captain wasn’t having any of this and took measures to eject the two culprits. However the rest of the group then insisted that if they go, then they all go, so all 41 left the plane…….
We then had to hang around until the crew checked all the hand baggage holds and of course wait for the luggage of 41 passengers were off-loaded. We eventually departed 2 hours and 20 minutes late. The crew and cabin staff were brilliant and despite everything, the atmosphere on board remained amiable. The captain even offered views of the flight deck, something quite unusual in this day and age……..
I was not able to find out what sort of a musical group was involved, whether it was a small classical orchestra …. Incidentally, there was a group of young Portuguese folk musicians and dancers also on board who were giving concerts in São Paulo: they behaved impeccably…… The crew were able to make up some time, and we arrived in SP 1 hour and 50 minutes late.