As experts tried to find what caused the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 that killed 157 people Sunday, Antonis Mavropoulos, who missed the flight by three minutes, reflected on the loss of friends and colleagues and his own good fortune.
“I haven't slept all night…A friend told me 'a second life was gifted to you'…the flip side is I lost people I knew and it shakes you to know that a split second decided their lives, that theywere lost for nothing,” Mavropoulos told Skai TV Monday.
Mavropoulos was making a connection at Addis Ababa on his way to a UN-staged conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Mavropoulos is the founder of waste management company D-Waste and, since September 2016, President of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), based in Vienna. The UN's Environmental Protection Agency, UNEP, is headquartered in Nairobi.
Mavropoulos said that he had only half an hour between the flights and that he was fortunate he had only a carry-on bag, otherwise the doomed flight would have waited for him.
The holder of a business class ticket, Mavropoulos was supposed to be escorted to his flight by a “connection ambassador” who did not arrive on time, so an anxious Mavropoulos made his way to the gate by himself.
“The flight was departing at 8:15 a.m. I arrived at the gate at 8:03 and it was closed,” he says. (His ticket, which he showed on social media, says that the gate woud close 15 minutes before departure). “I was watching the last passengers entering (the plane) and I could do nothing. I protested, as one does in such cases. In any case, the people issued me a new ticket to depart with the next flight, three hours later. They apologized. They were very polite. I was waiting…When, three hours later, I tried to board they told me 'You can't board because you are the only one who did not board the missing flight.' We didn't know anything then, but I felt my feet give way under me because I understood.”
Had he checked his luggage and missed the flight, Mavropoulos would have been treated as a suspect.
The plane's black box was found Monday, Ethiopia's state television reported, and will be examined for clues as to what happened.