AI passengers stage 'squat protest' against flight delay

They were furious over the diversion of plane to Kozhikode

AI passengers stage 'squat protest' against flight delay

In almost a replay of Friday’s Thiruvananthapuram ‘highjack’ drama, passengers of an Air India flight from Bahrain squatted on runway at Kochi airport on Saturday in protest against the delay in flying them to Kozhikode, their scheduled destination. 

The Bahrain-Kozhikode flight was diverted to Kochi due to bad weather over Kozhikode airport.

Already late by several hours, the passengers were furious over the diversion. Adding fuel to the fire, when the flight landed at 9 am in Kochi, the pilot left the aircraft after announcing that his duty time had expired and he would not able to fly them to Kozhikode.

The agitated passengers squatted on the airport runway, demanding they be flown to Kozhikode without further delay. Finally, normalcy was restored by accommodating the passengers on another flight pressed into service to ferry the passengers of another diverted flight. It took off to Kozhikode at 11.30 am.

For several passengers the ordeal did not end even after reaching Kozhikode. They were held up at the airport for hours as their baggage had to arrive by another flight.
The flight which was scheduled to leave Baharin at 6.30 local time in the evening, took off at 8.30 and it had stopovers  at Qatar and Mumbai. “At every stop, there were fight  between passengers and cabin crew,’’ said a passenger. He lamented that the passengers had to spend 20 hours on the aircraft and they were only given a small pouch of plain water and two small pieces of cakes.

Air India sources said that its three Gulf flights to Kozhikode had to be diverted to Kochi on Saturday owing to fog over Kozhikode. In all, there were over 200 passengers and they were brought back to Kozhikode by two flights. They were provided with water and food.

Meanwhile, Kerala Police and Director General of Civil Aviation (DGC) have began  investigation into the `hijack’ drama at the Thiruvananthapuram  airport.

The police team headed by City Assistant  commissioner K V Vimal will look into the pilot Rupali Waghmare’s complaint that six ``identifiable’’ passengers had barged into  the cockpit, threatened her,  not permitted her to disembark from the aircraft and attacked the cabin crew. The DGCA team led by its Chennai Regional Director Sarath Sreenivas is inquiring into the circumstances that led the pilot to give hijack alert to the air control traffic. Vimal said that cases had been registered against the six passengers under bailable-offence. “A serious charge and non-bailable offences would be slapped against them, if they have  entered the cockpit. This would be confirmed after examining the security cameras on the aircraft and its cockpit voice recorder,” he added. 
 

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