The Delhi airport, touted as the world's second best, witnessed utter chaos on Thursday after a strike by contracted aerobridge operators paralysed operations.
A number of international flights were delayed by hours after airlines had to transfer their passengers from the airport's Terminal 3 in buses and then step ladders to parked aircrafts.
The aerobridge operators, who belong to a private firm ICS, which has been contracted to manage aerobridges on the international side of T3, not only went on strike at 9.15pm but also reportedly destroyed wires and fuses to sabotage operations.
Operations, however, returned to normal on Friday after the airport operator put its own technicians to man the 78 aerobridges of Terminal 3.
Sources said the aerobridge operators had been protesting against long working hours and low wages for some time. Reportedly, the operators had threatened to go on strike two weeks ago if their demands were not met. The issue, however, was not resolved and no alternate arrangements were kept ready by the private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd. (DIAL).
"We faced huge problems on Thursday night as all passengers had to be ferried by bus, which took a long time," said a senior official of an international airline.
"Our flights got delayed by hours and passengers, especially those who are old or wheelchair bound, were hassled," he added.
Thanks to extensive use of aerobridges at T3, there were not enough buses or stepladders available when the aerobridge operators left work and also sabotaged the machinery.
A DIAL spokesman said the operating staff had removed control fuses and vital wires, cross-connected wires and broken control cabinet locks.
"It was clear that the operators had caused the damage to disrupt and sabotage the operations. DIAL lodged an FIR with the police," the spokesman said.