As many as 300 passengers of an Air India flight spent a large part of Independence Day stuck at Mumbai airport, after their flight was recalled for an emergency landing on Friday evening. Flight AI 965 was supposed to depart from Terminal 2 (T2) at 4.25 pm for Jeddah via Hyderabad.
An emergency landing was conducted after a technical snag was announced, and passengers had to wait five hours before they could finally take off for Hyderabad
However, after a delay of about 35 minutes, it took off at 5.05 pm. But the 300 passengers onboard already frustrated with the delay had no way of knowing that the ordeal had just begun. After 45 minutes, when the aircraft was already halfway to Hyderabad, it was recalled to T2 at Mumbai, where an emergency landing had to be conducted at 5.50 pm.
Passengers were asked to deplane flight AI 965 after it was recalled to Mumbai airport for an emergency landing on Friday evening
An announcement was made to inform passengers that a technical snag had occurred, and that they would be deplaned and transferred to another plane. The passengers waited while they were served refreshments and told that their luggage was being shifted. By the time they could disembark, it was 7.45 pm. Nearly five hours had passed before an alternate aircraft was arranged to carry the passengers to Hyderabad, departing at 9.22 pm.
While the official annou-ncement was not specific about what technical issue had caused the flight to be grounded, a passenger and an official said, on request of anonymity, that there was some major problem possibly even fatal with the aircraft’s wheels. What they had failed to understand, however, was why they had to return to Mumbai airport when they were already halfway to Hyderabad.
An Air India spokesperson explained, “There were 300 passengers on board; we required the same type of aircraft to accommodate all the passengers, hence the aircraft had to be called back T2.” One of the passengers, Fatema Khokhar was dismayed by the national carrier’s service that had stranded her in the city for two days.
“I was to take the flight AI 050 on Thursday, but there was some confusion with passengers from a previous flight, and I was prevented from checking in even though I had reached before the check-in time. When I asked for compensation, not only was the request rejected, but I was not even given a seat for the following morning’s flight because it had been fully-booked.”
She further added, “I had to attend my cousin’s engagement on Friday, which has gone for a toss. I bought two tickets again for Friday evening’s flight, spending R5,522 per ticket, but I am still stuck in Mumbai. Moreover, we haven’t even been informed when the new flight will take off.”
Speaking to mid-day before the flight finally did depart from the terminal, an official said, “The flight took off on time but due to an engineering fault it had to return to T2. An alternate aircraft has been arranged for the passengers that will take off from the airport any moment.”