Harrington in take-off scare

2012-02-09 15:40

Pebble Beach - Irish golfer Padraig Harrington says he was unaware of the severity of a take-off scare after his plane shook and then stopped suddenly on the runway at Abu Dhabi last month.

Harrington was on an Etihad Airways plane as it taxied down the runway prior to take-off on January 30, when the passengers felt a sharp jolt and then the aircraft, with more than 200 people on board, came to a lurching halt.

"We didn't know anything happened," said Harrington, who was seated in business class with his caddie. "It was a very foggy night. They aborted take-off."

It wasn't until the following day that the golfer discovered the magnitude of the mishap.

"We just went back to the lounge, and it was only the next day they said there was some damage to the runway," Harrington said on Wednesday as he prepared for Thursday's start of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament.

"We assumed that there was a puncture to one of the tyres. They weren't exactly telling people.

"It was only the next day that somebody who recognised me decided to tell me the story that they'd taken out a few lights on the runway, so obviously it had somehow veered."

Harrington downplayed the scare, saying it wouldn't have been such a big deal if a golf writer hadn't been on the same flight.

"It really wasn't as bad an experience as it turned out," he said. "You travel with Karl McGinty and something is going to go wrong. Isn't it like that Chinese curse - May your life be interesting."

Harrington was returning home after competing in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Flight EYO45 from Abu Dhabi to Dublin eventually left 12 hours late.

The incident led to delays at the airport and the airline said it was investigating.

Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and carries more than 7 million passengers a year.