The hijack alert sounded by a Kochi-bound Air India Express flight from Abu Dhabi here Friday proved to be a dud after it was found that the passengers did not attempt to attack the pilot. The aircraft left for Kochi around 1.40 p.m
"It was found that the passengers aboard the flight were angry when they were told that after landing here they might have to proceed to Kochi by road due to a technical snag," said State Minister of Excise K. Babu, who is also in-charge of airports in Kerala.
The trouble started after 7 a.m. when the flight was diverted here due to bad weather around Kochi. Annoyed passengers began a protest that forced the pilot to send an alert to the air traffic control, an official said.
A passenger on board the aircraft told the media over phone that they boarded the flight at Abu Dhabi at 11.30 p.m. Thursday night.
"We were told that the flight would land in Thiruvananthapuram around 7 a.m. Friday and from there we would fly back to Kochi. Then came the news that the crew would leave the aircraft as their duty was over. This made passengers furious and they began to protest," the passenger said.
The pilot alerted the air traffic control after some passengers rushed towards the cockpit on hearing that the pilot would also leave the aircraft.
The message was soon flashed across the country that an aircraft was being hijacked and the authorities swung into action.
"No passenger attempted to barge into the cockpit. We reached here in the morning and remained stranded in the aircraft in heat for hours. We were treated very badly," said another passenger who did not give his name.
The preliminary investigation by police also confirmed that there was no attempt by the passengers to attack the pilot.
"If the captain of the aircraft files a complaint, then we will have to register a case officially and the passengers will have to be questioned. The aircraft left for Kochi around 1.40 p.m. with a new set of crew," an Air India official said.