Pilots refuse to take off; passengers stranded at BIA

But it turned out to be an agonising wait for over 12 hours at the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) as the pilots refused to take off citing that their duty hours were over.

Finally, the passengers left in the evening after Air India made alternative arrangements by flowing in pilots from Mumbai. The passengers were accommodated in the transit lounge and were provided breakfast, lunch and tea.

Sources said the Boeing 747 from Jeddah arrived at BIA at 3.20 am and could not take-off again as the pilots had already completed their stipulated shift of flying 11 hours. "While 200 passengers alighted and checked in at immigration clearance and waited in the transit lounge, 23 passengers refused to get down from the flight and demanded they be served food and be re-flown on the same aircraft" said sources. The alternative flight, an Airbus A310 that arrived at 5 pm left BIA at 6. Sources said the passengers were on the flight demanding that they be served food and arrangement be made for them to relax.

Air India Haj chartered flight AI 5214 on the Jeddah-Bangalore-Mumbai sector was delayed due to the stipulated Flight and Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) of the operating crew, Air India said in a release issued here. Venkatarengan Chandrasekar, Sr Manager (Corporate Communications), Air India, said, "The delay in flight take off was because of pilot duty time limitations as the shift had to be changed. Being a long haul flight, Air India will not compromise on passenger safety issues".

Air India also added that due to delay in departure from Jeddah, the aircraft arrived here late forcing authorities to bring pilots from Mumbai. A total of 443 passengers, including 200 from Bangalore, were on their return journey from the Haj pilgrimage when the aircraft landed at BIA.

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