New Caledonia’s international carrier says it is returning one of its new Airbus planes to the manufacturer in France to repair a ventilation problem.

Unpleasant odours inside one of its new the Airbus A330neo planes prompted Aircalin two weeks ago to ground the aircraft for a thorough inspection.

The plane had been put into operation last month but crew members noticed a smell of oil and complained of headaches and irritated eyes.

The head of Aircalin said the odour, which he likened to the smell of wet socks, was not toxic.

Although technicians have traced the source of the problem, the plane will be taken back to Toulouse for repairs.

The grounding had not affected the flight schedule because Aircalin still has its old Airbus A330 aircraft.

The Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper said similar issues with new A330neo planes were reported by Air Portugal and Air Senegal.

Aircalin bought two new A330neo planes, and in the next two years it will replace its two A320 aircraft with A320neo planes.

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