Airbus and Cathay Pacific engineers are "looking into" a series of blocked lav incidents on the airline's A330 and A340 aircraft - the worst of which saw one flight diverted with all its toilets out of commission.
Cathay Pacific has been hit three times in 11 days by choked crappers. Two flights - one from Rome on 9 November and another from Dubai on 19 November 19 - took off with less than the full passenger manifest when pre-flight checks showed the dunnies on one side of the aircraft were not accepting customer input.
On 17 November, 278 passengers en route from Riyadh to Hong Kong were treated to an unscheduled 18-hour stopover in Mumbai after the plane's full complement of 10 facilities packed up.
The Airbus toilet set-up consists of two independent suction systems, one on each side of the aircraft. A single failure would cripple either the port or starboard WCs, but it's not entirely clear what did for all of one aircraft's lavatories.
Cathay Pacific's director of flight operations, Nick Rhodes, admitted in a memo to staff the problems were "possibly due to a change in the cleaning procedure introduced approximately six months ago".
A Cathy Pacific spokeswoman suggested passengers may also have to shoulder some of the blame. She said: "You would be amazed at what we find in the pipes when we clean the system - not just face towels but medicine bottles, socks and even children's stuffed toys."*
The airline is replacing tubing and carrying out remedial "deep-cleaning treatment" on its worst-affected 32 Airbus A330s and 15 Airbus A340s. ®
* What, no iPods?