Mumbai: Man calls in hijack situation after AI leaves passengers stranded for 7 hours

Jan 20, 2016, 10:50 IST | Neha LM Tripathi

The carrier left passengers stranded in the aircraft and one of them called the police fearing that they were in a hijack-like situation; the passengers were finally able to board a connecting flight after 7 hours

Another incident has been added into Air India’s list of displaying ignorance towards its passengers. Yesterday morning, the carrier left passengers stranded on the aircraft for five hours. This ultimately led one of the passengers into thinking that they were in a hijack-like situation.

The stranded passengers yelled slogans against Air India
The stranded passengers yelled slogans against Air India

The flight, AI130 (London to Ahmedabad via Mumbai) had landed in Mumbai at 4.25 am yesterday. This situation worried Rustam Kothari — one of the passengers — who thought that a hijack-like situation was underway.

Kothari, a businessman was to fly to Ahmedabad on the flight. However, after seeing no airline official on the aerobridge, Kothari called up the police control room informing them of their condition and told them about the ignorance displayed by the airline towards them.

‘No other intention’
Speaking to mid-day, Kothari said, “There were many senior citizens and infants on board who were shouting for help. I called up the police control room after more than five hours of delay at around 9.30 am, to inform them about the situation. I told them that the way the airline has cornered the aircraft and us passengers, it seems like a situation similar to a hijack. I did not have any other intention than explaining the exact scene to them over the phone.”

Later on, when the flight finally left, Rustam had to be offloaded since the Sahar Police required him for making a diary entry of the incident. AI later accommodated him on an evening flight, AI 144.

It all started when the airline first announced the flight to be delayed by an hour. Later, it declared that the flight would take off by 7.45am. After this, it kept delaying the estimated take off time. The aircraft couldn’t leave boarding gate 74 as the doors of the connecting aerobridge were locked.

Lost their cool
Meanwhile, the passengers lost their cool after the flight was delayed for the second time. “As none of the airline staff were present at the time, all of them shouted slogans against Air India,” said an Airport Official.

A British passenger said, “I could see only one ground staff but the he too just stood there while we shouted for help. It was only after a passenger called the local police, that the airline officials opened the aerobridge door. We were able to have water and food after five hours.”

Mitul Shah, a passenger said, “At the beginning, a single airline official wasn’t present to inform us about the delay.”

He added, “The airline should have deployed some responsible person to handle the situation instead of having no official at all.”

The flight landed in Mumbai at around 4.25 am and was to take off at 5.30 am. But it could take off only at 12.41 pm, making it a total delay of seven hours.

According to airport officials, the flight was delayed due to unavailability of crewmembers who walked in only by noon.

Police says
Suresh Vedak, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Airport Division said, “Kothari is a Vile Parle resident and a businessman. We are investigating what he had exactly said over the phone to the control room. However, as of now we have made a diary entry and taken down all of his details.”

The other side
Despite repeated attempts, Air India did not respond to mid-day’s request for a comment on the issue.

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