AT LEAST 70 Delhi-bound passengers of an Air India flight from Chandigarh to New Delhi had a harrowing experience on Thursday evening, when they were told not to board the plane, citing “low fuel” issues. High drama took place at the Chandigarh International Airport for nearly four hours as the passengers complained of harassment and protested against the airline staff.
The flight (AI-9832) that was to depart from Chandigarh Airport for New Delhi at 7.50 pm eventually took off around 10.10 pm. One of the passengers booked on the flight told Chandigarh Newsline that the pilot refused to fly the airplane citing “fuel shortage”.
“We were informed that the flight’s pilot has said that there was no money to buy fuel for the flight and thus she could not fly it back to New Delhi. We were shocked to hear this. Despite repeated requests, no alternative arrangement was made. Many passengers who had connecting flights left in a huff, searching for alternative modes of transport to Delhi,” said Ankit Gupta, a resident of Sector 28.
“There are some ongoing issues between Air India and Indian Oil company. The airport authority is cooperating with the passengers,” a spokesman of Chandigarh International Airport told Chandigarh Newsline late in the evening.
By 6.30 pm, the passengers who were booked on the flight AI-9832 had arrived at the airport, but they were informed that the flight would not be able to take off.
“First, we were informed that the flight was delayed. Then, the Air India staff told us that the flight will take off at 8.20 pm. But a few minutes later, we were told that the woman pilot of the plane has refused to take off citing there was no fuel in the plane,” another passenger told Newsline.
“We were left stunned when informed about the fuel shortage in the plane. Ideally, Delhi is the fuel station of flights and this Air India flight takes the fuel from Delhi airport before it comes to Chandigarh and then goes back to New Delhi late in the evening. It is surprising how a flight could take off from Delhi without adequate fuel to return to the base,” Gupta said.
The Air India’s spokesperson at Chandigarh was not available for comment. The flight landed safely in Delhi.
However, speaking to reporters at an event in New Delhi, Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani said, “We are facing an issue of ATF supply being stopped at six airports. Hopefully, it should get resolved.”
A few days ago, Indian Oil along with Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum had stopped jet fuel supplies to Air India at six airports comprising Kochi, Pune, Patna, Ranchi, Vizag and Chandigarh International Airport at Mohali. Indian Oil has said that Air India has defaulted on payments amounting to over Rs 4,500 crore, which has been pending for the past 240 days.