Updated: November 9, 2014 11:15:32 am
As many as 150 Air India passengers had a harrowing time after a technical snag delayed their flight by over 24 hours. Passengers boarded AI 191 Mumbai-Newark flight around 1 am on Saturday, only to be deplaned around 5.30 am after engineers detected a snag and were unable to rectify it.
The long-haul AI aircraft was scheduled to depart from Mumbai at 1.30 am. After 40 minutes, the crew announced that there was a technical snag and the flight would be delayed. “Around 5.30 am, after four hours of sitting inside the aircraft, we were asked to deplane with our hand luggage. Moreover, there were no crew or staff at the gate or the immigration area. After a lot of ruckus, we were told around 8 am that we would be put up in a hotel and rerouted on November 9 on AI 191,” said Arun Shah, a passenger.
While passengers claimed that they were kept in the dark about the extent of delay, airlines officials blamed the technical snag and flight duty time limit constraints of crew for their absence.
“A technical snag was detected after passengers had boarded the flight. We informed passengers about the delay and served meals on board. But as the snag persisted and due to the flight duty time limitation of the crew, we could not arrange for an alternative crew and had to cancel the flight,” said an Air India spokesperson.
But passengers complained that the ‘meal’ was just a cup of tea, some fruits and bread, and that they were kept in the dark for over six hours about the flight being cancelled. “Around 8 am, Air India staff told us that the flight was cancelled due to poor passenger load. We have been given boarding passes to fly on November 9,” added Dr Shah.
Air India’s On-Time Performance (OTP) in domestic and international routes have taken a beating in the past few days due to the grounding of eight aircraft on the grounds of engine failure. At the same time the airline’s obligation to divert fleet for Haj operations further brought down their OTP performance, said Ravindra Dholakia, a member of Air India’s board.
“At present, we have very few new aircraft (with new engine). Though the old aircraft are causing us some problems, we are being able to overcome them gradually,” added Dholakia.
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