Mumbai: SpiceJet passengers, staff almost come to blows

Updated: Dec 19, 2014, 09:33 IST | Neha LM Tripathi |

Cash-strapped air carrier cancelled around 11 flights on Tuesday without prior intimation, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded; police had to be called in to handle the situation

Hundreds of passengers planning to fly by SpiceJet on Tuesday morning were left stranded at the city airport, after they were told that their flights had been cancelled at the eleventh hour.

Irate passengers crowded at the SpiceJet counter after 15 flights were cancelled on Tuesday
Irate passengers crowded at the SpiceJet counter after 15 flights were cancelled on Tuesday

The budget air carrier, which has close to 20 flights taking off from Mumbai airport every day, was able to operate only four flights yesterday, and their inability to adjust the grounded passengers added fuel to the fire. Angry over the unexpected cancellation, passengers caused a huge commotion at the SpiceJet counter, and nearly came to blows with the airline staff.

The local police had to be called to control the situation at the domestic terminal 1B. “The airline staff told the passengers bluntly that since only a few flights would take off, they shouldn’t depend on them for any adjustments,” informed an airport official, who was present at the terminal.

He added, “Many passengers had checked in as the flight schedule board displayed their flight as either boarding or delayed; none of them initially displayed that their flight was cancelled.

Thus, there was a huge crowd at the boarding area, and later at the check-in area.” Officials say that the main reason for the cancellation of flights was because oil-marketing companies (OMCs) have denied fuel to the cash-strapped carrier.

Cop speak
ACP Madhukar Sankhe of the airport division told mid-day, “We were informed that the situation at the departure terminal had gone out of control, and we sent a team to calm them down.

Passengers were angry because their flights had been cancelled. No police case was filed in the matter.” A SpiceJet spokesperson refused to comment on the incident.

Breather for SpiceJet
In a relief to the budget carrier, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has given suggestions to help the airline tide over the crises and keep it from shutting-down. SpiceJet has been asked to give commitment of increasing sufficient appropriate capital within a short period.

The Public Sector Oil Companies would be requested to give credit for up to 15 days. DGCA would be asked to open up the bookings of Spice Jet up to March 31, 2015.

Flights that took off on Tuesday
SG-401 Mumbai-Hyderabad-Visakhapatnam
SG-291 Mumbai-Chennai-Madurai
SG-528 Mumbai-Bangalore-Kolkata
SG-114 Mumbai-Delhi-Varanasi
*15 flights were expected to take off on Tuesday

Passenger speak

Vijay Sumbly, along with his wife Sushma, had reached the airport at 11 am to take flight SG-803 to Goa, which was expected to depart at 12.05 pm. However, it was only when the couple reached the terminal that they were told the flight had been cancelled. “We had been waiting for a long time for our flight, after which they informed us that the flight was not going to take off. Since we have no other option left, we have now booked bus tickets.”

Another passenger, Ashish Dubey, along with his family, had planned to take SG-109 for Mangalore, which was scheduled to depart at 1.15 pm. “We had planned a trip to Karnataka and were supposed to reach Mangalore today. I had booked three hotel rooms for R20,000 each per day, for three days, which is now a waste, since we won’t be reaching Mangalore till Wednesday. My return tickets are also on SpiceJet, but I’m not going to take that risk any more.”

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