Around 500 passengers were left stranded for hours at Delhi airport on Sunday after at least four Air India flights were delayed. One flight for Dubai via Abu Dhabi left after a 16-hour delay.
According to Air India spokesperson Ashok Sharma, the flights that failed to take off in time were to Dubai, Muscat, Toronto and New York.
The last flight to take off was the Dubai flight, which was to depart at 9 pm on Saturday with over 150 people. It left the Indira Gandhi International Airport around 1 pm on Sunday, after a delay of 16 hours.
The other flights had left earlier in the day, said Sharma.
Though Sharma did not spell out the exact reason for the delays, sources said one of the main reasons could be the Air India ground staff's failure to handle a massive crowd of passengers.
Of the 22 Air India counters at the airport, just two were manned to check the passengers in, sources said.
But TV channels reported another reason for the delay of the Dubai flight -- the crew had completed their 12-hour shift and were unwilling to take off.
"We are trying to ascertain the exact reasons for the delay," said Sharma.
The stranded passengers, including small children, had a tough time at the airport. Most passengers were irked by the callous attitude of Air India staffers.
Tahira Malik, who was to take the flight to Dubai with her two small children, claimed the Air India staffers did not allow her to use the wheelchair of another airline to carry one of her children to reach the bus headed for the flight boarding point.
The staff, while refusing to allow her to use the wheelchair, did not provide her another, said Malik, adding that she had a tough time walking to the aircraft while carrying both her children in her arms.