Mangaluru, June 16, 2018: Passengers travelling by Air India Express 814 Dubai-Mangaluru flight held protest inside Cochin International Airport (CIA) after it was diverted due to bad weather on June 15, Friday. They were agitated that they would miss celebrating Eid al-Fitr with their families, plus raised other complaints of inconvenience.
The AIE 814 flight that was supposed to land at the Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) at 4.45am, was diverted to Cohin due to inclement weather. Following this, the flight landed at CIA at around 5.55 am. Even as the AIE staff was making arrangements to take the flight back to Mangaluru, a section of passengers, especially those returning home from Dubai to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, became furious and questioned the authorities of the diversion and delay. They also held protest and shouted slogan against the authorities inside the airport. Though the AIE authorities offered breakfast and other facilities inside the airport, passengers continued their protest near the runway.
The passengers alleged the ground unit, powering the air-conditioning system of aircraft, was switched off making it very difficult for them to sit inside the flight. However, the AIE authorities denied this allegation.
Abdul Jabbar, one of the passengers on the flight said: “They announced the flight will takeoff from Kochi within one hour after another captain arrives. In the meantime, the air conditioning inside the flight was switched off. After the protest, we were made to wait at the runway area in buses,” Jabbar said.
When contacted, AIE Chief of Airport Services Aby George told media, the flight was diverted since it was raining heavily in Mangaluru and the visibility was very poor. “We could not land the flight in MIA and the commander diverted it to CIA. We are operating as per DGCA regulations. Once the flight landed in CIA, the weather did not improve and by then the duty hours of the crew on board was over. We cannot make that commander to operate the flight again as per rules. So we had to bring another set of crew from Thiruvananthapuram. We told the passengers that we are planning 9.30am departure. Though we tried to convince the passengers about the bad weather, mob fury ruled,” George said.
Further, the passengers refused to go to the arrival hall where food was arranged, he said. “We had made arrangements to serve food at the arrival hall, where facility to freshen up was provided. However, they refused to come out of the airport. Later, we served food inside the aircraft. We arranged three to four air-conditioned coaches for the passengers to sit outside the aircraft. The allegations of passengers that we switched off air-conditioning in the flight are not true. Whenever an aircraft lands and has to remain on tarmac with passengers on board, it will be connected to ground power.; the air condition will be on,” he said.