A new Airbus plane will be sent back to engineers in France following complaints of a “smell of wet sock” from cabin crew in the Pacific island territory of New Caledonia.

The Airbus A330neo came into service on October 4 as part of a fleet renewal at Air Caledonie International (ACI), the french territory’s international airline.

However “a smell of ‘wet sock’ has repeatedly inconvenienced crew members during take off and landing”, ACI’s general manager Didier Tappero told AFP.

An investigation was carried out and identified oil fumes.

According to an Airbus report sent to the company, the analysis indicated that the air quality in the cabin was in accordance with international guidelines and below the toxicity threshold, ACI said.

However, blood samples were taken from the flight crew who inhaled the bad smell.

The Airbus A330neo, one of two in ACI’s fleet, has been grounded for two weeks and will shortly be sent to Airbus’ workshops in Toulouse.

“We are working on a solution to solve odor problems in the cabin of a small number of Airbus A330neo in service,” Airbus spokesman Sean Lee told AFP.

Similar problems have been encountered by airlines in Portugal and Senegal.

© Agence France-Presse