A trip from Coimbatore to Mumbai usually lasts no longer than two hours by air. But on Thursday, more than a hundred passengers on board Indigo flight 6E 453 were livid when the same journey took them six hours.
The flight, which took off from Coimbatore airport at 8 am, was expected to land at 9:55 am. But according to passengers who were on board the plane, while it was descending into Mumbai and about to land, the captain took it back up. "He made an announcement saying that because there was congestion on the runway, the flight had been delayed," said Chikita Kukreja, a Mumbaikar who was on board the flight. "My husband was worried as to why I hadn't landed, and was frantically trying to get in touch with Indigo to find what the hold up was about."
Taken to Ahmedabad
Harshit Shah, an employee of CEAT in Mumbai who was also on the same flight, said, "After hovering above Mumbai for nearly 45 minutes, he tried to land, but again pulled out. This time an announcement was made saying visibility conditions were low, but when we looked out, we could not see any impaired conditions. After pulling out, a third announcement was made stating that the flight was being taken to Ahmedabad for an emergency landing, as it was low on fuel."
At Ahmedabad, the flight was stalled for nearly two hours. Cabin crew and staff tried to appease angry passengers by giving them free food. Finally, after two hours, the flight took off for Mumbai, and landed in the city a little after 2 pm. According to the passengers, no proper explanation was given by the captain, as to why the flight had been delayed.
An Indigo spokesperson said, "For the Pilot-in-Command (who was a restricted Captain — a new pilot with few flying hours) the visibility required was 2,900 metres, as per the DGCA requirement. Following the standard operating procedure, the captain decided to divert the flight to Ahmedabad — but only after initiating the approach to land at the Mumbai airport (Runway, 32). The captain diverted the flight to Ahmedabad. On landing, the fuel on board was more than the minimum stipulated by the regulator. There has been no violation or breech of any regulatory requirement in the above mentioned scenario. Safety is the utmost priority and at no stage it can be compromised."