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An Air India flight, on its way from Delhi, skidded off the runway while trying to land at the Pune airport at 6.30 pm on Friday. None of the 152 passengers on board AI 849 were injured in the incident, and they were evacuated safely by security personnel. But the incident delayed several flights, as the runway was closed for about an hour.
While outgoing flights were stranded at the airport, those which were about to land were diverted to Mumbai, said officials. According to a tweet by Air India, the aircraft overshot the runway while landing. The airline said all passengers were safe after the emergency evacuation. Describing the incident, Kedar Mhaskar, one of the passengers on board AI 849, said, “We felt a jerk… we could also smell the tyres burning. We had no idea what was happening. Immediately, the rear emergency door opened and we were evacuated. After coming out of the flight, I saw that it had skidded off the runway partially”.
Pune Airport Director Ajay Kumar said the runway was closed for about an hour, and seven flights that were supposed to take off or land were affected. “The aircraft that had overshot the runway was towed to the parking bay. The runway was vacated in 30 to 35 minutes. After an hour of the incident, the runway was opened again for traffic,” said Kumar.
The incident led to confusion among passengers of the affected flights. Professor Nivedita Ekbote, who was travelling with her mother and BJP corporator Jyotsana Ekbote, and father Gajanan Ekbote on an AI flight to Delhi, said no information on the delayed flights was forthcoming from the airline.
“All the other airlines were making announcements to reassure their passengers. However, AI left us in a lurch, with no information on the delayed flights for nearly one-and-a-half hours. Finally, at around 8.50 pm, they told us that we would be taking a 10.30 pm flight to Delhi,” said Ekbote. He said the worst affected were those who were on their way to Delhi to catch an international flight, as they were told to co-ordinate with the airlines concerned on their own.
Ambuj Tomar, a Noida-based sales manager, said the first half-an-hour after the incident was chaotic and nobody knew what to do. Himanshu Chahar, a passenger who was on his way to Bengaluru, said his Air Asia flight was also affected by the incident. “I was supposed to travel to Mysore from Bangalore airport. The delay made my plans go haywire,” said Chahar. Air India Station Manager Suhas Kumar didn’t respond when approached for a comment.