Air India passengers protest Mideast flight delays
Air India passengers have expressed their frustration at the airline, following a series of delays on Middle East flights.
Protests were held at Mangalore Airport last week, after passengers labelled the delay of a Doha-bound flight – operated by Air India Express – as “worse than a hijack”.
According to a report in ArabNews.com, around 160 passengers were informed of the delay once they had boarded the aircraft and refused an initial request to deplane. The situation was eventually resolved after the passengers were offered hotel accommodation, food and water, although a second delay led to further protests on the streets.
The airline officials claimed "operational reasons" were behind the delay, although passengers complained that Air India delays and cancellations have become frequent on routes between the Middle East and India.
"The majority of passengers booked for the flight were migrant workers in the Gulf. They might even lose the job if they fail to get at their workplace in time", a passenger told the website. “It’s worse than a hijack. We never expected this from the Indian authorities”.
The incident followed a similar delay at Dubai International Airport the previous day, which left around 170 Air India Express passengers heading to Calicut stranded for more than 12 hours.
“We were told there would be a two-hour delay,” Saidalavi Vadakkethela, an Indian advertising officer based in Dubai, told The National newspaper. “We kept waiting at the airport but there was no information.”
Bad weather and limited staff numbers were blamed for the delay.
“We are having a problem with a shortage of crew members, which is why the flight could not leave on time from India,” stated Air India’s regional manager in the UAE, Abhay Pathak. “As soon as the flight arrived in Dubai, we loaded the passengers and they were on their way.”