Flight Delay Leaves AI Passengers Stranded

RIYADH, 7 September 2006 — Around 320 passengers were stranded at the King Khaled International Airport (KKIA) for nearly 26 hours before being lodged in a city hotel yesterday after their Air-India (AI) flight bound for the south Indian city of Calicut was canceled. The ordeal of the passengers is likely to end today when an AI aircraft will probably carry them back home, airline sources said here last night.

“It is a very agonizing experience for me because my mother has died in India and I am still stranded here,” said Lissy, a woman passenger.

“I cannot understand what to do now or how to reach India to meet my other bereaved relatives,” said Lissy, who will probably not be able to attend the funeral of her mother.

Asked about the arrangements being made by Air-India to airlift the stranded passengers, R. Ghosh, AI manager for the Central Province, said: “If you speak to the airport manager, he will be able to give details.” He, however, said there was some delay in Bombay that had led to this problem.

Another AI official, who preferred not to be named, admitted that the national carrier had been ignoring this highly-profitable Saudi-Indian sector for quite some time.

All passengers, who spoke to journalists at the Al-Mutlaq Hotel, said they had turned up at the airport on Tuesday night for their 4.15 a.m. AI flight, but were told about the cancellation by AI officials only after boarding passes were issued. “Many passengers were hungry and thirsty because they had traveled to Riyadh from far-off places,” one passenger said. Santosh George, who works as a technician in a private company in Riyadh, was rushing to India after learning about the death of his father. George complained about the irresponsible behavior of Air-India staff.

One Indian who was also delayed was a man called Prakash. He was travelling with his family members to attend a marriage ceremony in India. Speaking to Arab News he said he was upset at the poor service. Asha, another woman passenger, who was scheduled to attend the Kerala State Public Service Commission examination, was equally distraught.

AI currently operates nine weekly flights from Riyadh, while the total number of flights from Saudi Arabia to India stands at 31. AI’s worldwide network covers more than 44 destinations including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

Add Comment