VILNIUS – Lithuanian Transport Minister Marius Skuodis on Thursday described as "serious" Wednesday's incident where Vilnius Airport's runway was blocked for several hours due to the landing gear failure of a Brussels Airlines aircraft,
"I can't comment and I won't dare to comment, because these are sensitive issues and the investigation is ongoing," the minister told reporters at the Lithuanian capital's airport.
"But naturally, since Vilnius Airport was closed, the incident was serious," he added.
Marius Zelenius, spokesman for Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports, LTOU), said on Thursday that the Vilnius Airport incident was exceptional, noting that usually the airline is responsible for the technical condition of its aircraft.
"The airline is responsible for the maintenance of its plane. They regularly carry out these inspections," he told BNS. "It is the responsibility of the airline to ensure that it is in good working order."
The aircraft's wheel fell off because of a serious landing gear failure, the spokesman said, adding that it was "a huge stroke of luck" that this happened before the plane took off.
Zelenius said it was not yet clear how much financial damage the incident has caused to the airport.
"It is too early to say. We'll see how the airlines and passengers react. I think we might know next week," he said.
The landing gear of the Brussels-bound flight failed while the plane was taxiing to the runway.
The incident, which was reported at around 4:20 p.m. on Wednesday, affected 24 flights.