EL PASO - An American Airlines plane bound for Chicago made two separate emergency landings Monday afternoon at El Paso International Airport, prompting an apology from the airline as it scrambled to rebook passengers on other flights.
Flight 3880 returned to El Paso for a second time around 4 p.m., shortly after it was cleared by maintenance crews to re-depart following what was described as a false indication of a mechanical problem.
The Embraer E-175 aircraft carrying 76 passengers and a crew of four first took off from El Paso for Chicago around 1 p.m. It then had a safe emergency landing around 2:30 p.m. after returning and then circling the airport for at least a half hour to burn off fuel.
Once on the ground, the diverted plane was examined by maintenance workers. An airline spokesperson told KVIA.com that what was thought to be "a possible mechanical issue" had turned out to be a "false indicator." With the "issue resolved," the spokesperson said the plane would re-depart for Chicago.
It did take off again around 4 p.m., but was only in the air for approximately four minutes before it was diverted for a second emergency landing, according to the air traffic tracking firm FlightAware.
"Our maintenance team will re-evaluate the aircraft. All passengers will be rebooked on alternate flights to Chicago or their intended destination," the airline said in an email statement to KVIA.com following the second emergency landing. "We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we apologize for both diversions."
American Airlines later said a third flight departed El Paso around 6:30 p.m. and successfully arrived in Chicago just before 10:30 p.m. local time.