Crashed Air Algerie plane criticised as 'old and rotten' weeks ago

The Air Algerie plane which crashed killing 118 people on Thursdsay was criticised by a passenger just two weeks ago

Algeria's Transport Minister Amar Ghoul speaks at press conference regarding Air Algerie plane crash (AA)
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Thursday 12 February 2015 18:15 UTC
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The plane which crashed in the Sahara Desert with the loss of 118 lives was described as "old and rotten" by a passenger just a fortnight ago. 

A French-Algerian student named only as Fares, who is in his 20s, posted a video on You Tube attacking Air Algerie, which had chartered the plane from Spanish firm Swiftair.

Not only was the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 18 years old, but many considered that it was obsolete as far as transporting ordinary members of the public was concerned. 

There were 54 French deaths in the tragedy, including ten members of a single family, and five members of another. 

It came as the first pictures of the ‘disintegrated wreckage’ of Flight AH5017 were released. 

It was found by a French Army MQ9 Reaper drone bought from the USA to hunt down Al Qaeda terrorists in Mali’s portion of the Sahara Desert.

Fares was on board on 9th July, when the same plane flew from Paris to Batna – a distance of some 1500 miles. 

Fares says in the video: "It’s an old rotten plane which can barely reach the airport terminals," adding: "Air Algerie makes  us travel in a plane without a logo, the crew speaks Spanish and they tell us nothing."

At the end of the complaint, Fares adds: "Please Air Algerie – do your job, we pay a fortune for your tickets."

Both Swiftair and Air Algerie have insisted that the plane was in "good condition" and flightworthy. 

But mechanical failure will be high on the list of probable causes of the accident, which has been described as a "national tragedy" by French president, Francois Hollande. 

French troops have secured the crash site, in the region of Gossi, southwest of the northern Malian town of Gao. 

Al Qaeda armed radicals are among those who have been making the area extremely turbulent, and French troops are already in the country.

While flight number AH5017 clearly changed direction due to bad weather, some experts doubted a storm could have caused a crash. 

A missile strike brought down an Air Malaysia plane in Ukraine last Thursday, killing 298 people. 

There were 51 French nationals on board, many of them expatriates on their way back to cities like Paris and Marseille for the summer holidays. 

The Spanish pilots union said the pilots and crew were Spanish, and Mr Hollande said 14 other nationalities were on board.

Kara Terki, from Air Algerie, said these included 24 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, four Algerians, two from Luxembourg, one Belgian, one Swiss, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian, one Ukrainian and one Romanian. 

Bernard Reynaud, from Lorette, in the Loire department of France, died alongside his ex-wife, Michelle, who lived in Lyon. 

With them were their sons Franck and Eric, and their respective wives Laure and Estelle. The Reynaud’s grandchildren, Nathan, Julie, Alexi and Zoe were also killed. 

All were on holiday in Burkina Faso, where they had friends in Ouagadougou – the country’s capital from where they took off on Thursday morning. 

Also aboard were five people originally from a single family from the central Creuse department, including Bertrand Gineste, a 55-year-old chemist from the town of Gueret.

Mr Gineste and his wife Veronique, and their three children, aged between 14 and 19, were all members of a development organisation in Burkina Faso. 

Jean-Jacques Dupre, a friend of Mr Reynaud’s, said: "It’s difficult, very difficult, he was an exceptional friend. We worked together for 20 years, and we’ve been friends for 40 years, we studied together".

Mr Gineste employed 23 people at his Marche pharmacy in Gueret, and was also treasurer of a group aiding Gueret-Zitenga, a department in Burkina twinned with the French town.