'I said my final prayers': Father's 'terrifying' ordeal on rocking British Airways flight to Gibraltar

Ajay Nair, news reporter

A passenger on a British Airways flight seen erratically rocking side-to-side as it tried to land in Gibraltar has described his "terrifying" ordeal and panic on the plane.

Eli Hassett told Sky News he started screaming and saying his prayers as the aircraft struggled in strong winds.

"I do this route once a week from London to Gibraltar and the landings into Gibraltar sometimes are a bit windy but today was something completely out of the ordinary," he said.

"We were tilting from one side of the plane to the other. The wings were tilting, it was a near-death experience - let me call it that.

"The captain, the pilot, she said to get ready for landing and warned us that it might be a bit bumpy because of the winds.

"All of a sudden I literally felt like I was on a rollercoaster, tilting from side to side, we had no idea what was going on, people were, to say the least, very, very nervous.

BA has said that "at no point was there a risk to safety."

Mr Hassett added: "I - as a father of three young children - started saying my last prayers because I've been flying for many years as a frequent flyer and I've never experienced such a terrible situation.

"It looks bad but it felt much worse... it felt as if the plane had completely lost control."

Footage from inside the plane below

He said passengers were told they were going to stay in a holding pattern to see if the weather improved and if not be diverted to nearby Malaga, in southern Spain.

"There was panic, I started screaming - I didn't want to land in Gibraltar, I just wanted to go straight to Malaga Airport... it was terrifying," said Mr Hassett.

He praised cabin crew members, who "behaved fantastically as usual", after they tried to calm passengers down.

"You could see the pilot was well trained and she was professional to deal with any type of situation, but I don't think any of them had ever experienced this before," he added.

The flight, which took off from London Heathrow at 8.25am, was eventually diverted to Malaga.

In a video posted to Twitter, the Airbus A320-232 twists left and right nine times before appearing to stabilise.

British Airways captain Dave Wallsworth, who saw the clip online, tweeted: "The wind effects around The Rock can be 'interesting'.

"There are very specific briefing requirements for flights in/out of Gibraltar. Although this looks quite alarming, you would be amazed at what the aircraft is capable of."

In an earlier statement, British Airways said the flight was diverted as a "precaution".

A spokesperson added: "We're arranging ground transport for affected customers to allow them to continue their journey to Gibraltar and apologise for the disruption to their journey.

"At no point was there a risk to safety."

The airline confirmed the plane landed safely and passengers left the aircraft in the normal way.

"Due to strong winds in the Gibraltar area, our pilots decided to land in Malaga as a precaution," they said. "The safety of our customers and crew is always our number one priority."