Defending the protest staged at Delhi airport against the “inordinate delay” in departure of a Kerala-bound Air India flight, Lok Sabha member K S Manoj said on Saturday that it was a reaction against the “callous” attitude of the airline and civil aviation authorities against Kerala.
“This is not the first time the New Delhi-Kochi-Thiruvananthapuram-bound flight was getting delayed. Despite it being the longest domestic flight and booking always full, the officials have never bothered to stick to schedule or put good aircraft for the service,” said the CPI(M) MP from Alappuzha, who joined the protest with his senior party and parliament colleague Varkala Radhakrishnan on Friday night.
“Our intention was not to cause inconvenience to passengers. Actually, we wanted to bring to focus the hardship being silently suffered for long by Keralites,” said Manoj.
“The flight was scheduled to take off at 5:30 pm and the passengers had boarded it in time. But it was delayed without any clear explanation coming from the airline officials. It was nearly after two hours that the airline staff informed the passengers that the aircraft had some technical snag, and later a new aircraft was arranged for the journey. They did not even bother to provide tea or snacks to the passengers during this time,” he said.
Manoj said it was after the MPs insisted on calling Civil Aviation Secretary and Air India Chairman that the airline officials bothered to take some steps. Perhaps, the Meghalaya Governor being a passenger would have prompted the authorities to hurriedly arrange a new plane, he added.
“It was around 2200 hrs that the flight finally took off from the airport…You can imagine the anxiety of the passengers and the difficulties most of them would face by landing in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram quite late in the night,” the MP said.
The flight also had several businessmen and executives who would never be able to make up the precious time they lost in waiting, he said.
Manoj alleged that Kerala-bound flights quite often failed to stick to schedule and the issue had repeatedly been brought to the notice of the authorities but there were no corrective steps from their side.
It was unfortunate that a section of the media had sought to project as if the protest by MPs was the cause for the delay and the hardships suffered by the passengers, he said.