Passengers of a Bangalore to Delhi SpiceJet flight (SG-8720) had a harrowing time as were left stranded for at least 10 hours on Saturday after their aircraft made an “emergency” landing at Nagpur airport following a technical glitch.
Another aircraft of the domestic carrier was also forced to make an unscheduled landing Saturday following technical issues. The Mumbai to Chennai flight (SG-611) had to return to Mumbai airport due to technical glitches later in the morning, an airlines spokesperson said. The plane took off for Chennai after the issue was rectified, the official said.
The SG-8720 flight, which was scheduled to depart at 10 pm on Friday, took off from Bangalore at 11.30 pm. The aircraft was supposed to land at Delhi airport by 12.45 am, but had to make an emergency landing in Nagpur at 1.30 am.
Passengers alleged that they were forced to stay inside the aircraft carrier from 1.30 am to 5.30 am, as the airline officials claimed they did not operate out of Nagpur airport and had no ground support there.
“We were told an aircraft is coming from Mumbai with engineers. Then the airline officials said one aircraft is coming from Bangalore. But none came,” Surabhi Saraogi, a passenger, said.
Later in the morning, passengers were informed that engineers, who were asked to rush to Nagpur, had refused to come to provide support. “The Captain said as this is not an operating location for SpiceJet, even they were helpless. They served no food while we waited for hours inside the plane,” Saraogi, a market researcher, said.
Another passenger, Devdutt Sharma, said he remained stranded first in the aircraft and later at airport for the entire night. Passengers were allowed to deplane after 5.30 am.
By 8 am, Nagpur airport authorities provided them refreshments.
Shashank Tripathi, who works with Bank of America, said the airlines has been misleading passengers. “We were told at 6 am that a flight from Delhi will arrive in Nagpur for us. We kept waiting for three hours,” he said.
Around 9.30 am, another aircraft was sent to Nagpur and the passengers reached Delhi at 1.30 pm on Saturday.
A SpiceJet spokesperson said the flight had to be directed to Nagpur over technical issues. “An alternate aircraft was sent to Nagpur. It is clarified that the aircraft made a normal landing, and not an emergency landing in Nagpur.”
Since the Jet Airways stopped its domestic and international operations, SpiceJet has taken over several of its slots.
In April, SpiceJet applied to Director General of Civil Aviation to induct 16 more Boeing 737-800 aircraft. A few days later it added five 90-seater and five more Q400 aircraft. In a statement, chairman Ajay Singh had then said: “The sudden reduction of aviation capacity has created a challenging environment in the sector. SpiceJet is working closely with government authorities to augment capacity and minimise passenger inconvenience.”
According to Kiran Pawaskar, president of All India Jet Airways Staff and Employees Association, Jet Airways operated 137 flights from Mumbai airport alone, handling traffic of 14,000 passengers each day.
“With Jet Airways shut, other airlines are getting good business. But just because they have got routes permitted by civil aviation does not mean they have all facilities for the sudden expansion,” Pawaskar said.
Currently, SpiceJet operates 560 flights daily with a fleet of 59 Boeing 737, 30 Bombardier Q-400 carrier and two B737 freighters, its spokesperson said.