Air India Vizag-Mumbai flight 15 hours late!

MUMBAI: More than 100 passengers booked to travel on-board a Mumbai-bound Air India flight on Friday afternoon were held up at Visakhapatnam for about 15 hours, owing to a lack of aircraft.

The national carrier has budgeted for just one aircraft — AI 651 — to shuttle on this route, which has a stopover at Raipur, reports Hindustan Times.

At Raipur, the flight encountered a snag, which airline technicians were unable to fix that day. Ultimately, a spare plane sent from Mumbai reached the port city in the wee hours of Saturday.

It landed in Mumbai at 6 am on Saturday, 14.5 hours behind schedule.

While some passengers called off the trip, others were accommodated in hotels, said an airline spokesperson. Passengers who booked connecting flights from Mumbai were the worst hit.

A Boston-bound Turkish Airlines flight was scheduled for take-off at 6.55 am on Saturday.

However, by the time Praveen Chekka, an AI 651 passenger reached the check-in area, the counters were shut.

“Now the airline wants me to buy a fresh ticket for no fault of mine. AI staff too refused to take any responsibility for my Boston trip,” said Chekka, who spent USD 657 (Rs45,018) for the Mumbai-Boston flight.

He added that 30-odd passengers on AI 651 missed their connecting flights. A few Gulf-bound travelers who missed their flight were left stranded with no money. “A passenger was supposed to sail out of Mumbai for work,” said Chekka.

“The flight was delayed owing to an unexpected snag. We offered refunds and hotel accommodation,” said the spokesperson, who however, did not wish to comment on the plight of passengers who missed their connecting flights.

AI’s punctuality record has been the poorest among domestic airlines, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). In October, the airline accounted for 27,284 of the 58,925 domestic fliers who faced delays exceeding two hours, the highest by any domestic airline. DGCA data added that almost four of ten flights cancelled in October were owing to last-minute engineering snags.


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