Air France on Thursday apologised for "all inconveniences" suffered by its passengers - mostly Indians - due to a long delay in a Paris-Mumbai flight on Sunday.
"Air France apologises for the ill-treatment meted out to passengers and understands the annoyance expressed by some of them. Exceptional circumstances made the situation particularly difficult," the airline said in a statement.
The Air France Airbus-A330 flight AF 218, carrying 169 passengers and 12 crew members, left the the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris at 12.45 p.m. Sunday, but returned after the pilot noticed some vibrations emanating from the cargo hold enroute.
Later, some Indian passengers complained that they were "ill-treated" during their stay at the airport Sunday night. They also accused the airline of racial bias.
"The airline did not give any reason for the delay and dumped all Indians in a small room," an Indian passenger said after reaching Mumbai on Tuesday.
All passengers were transferred to another Air France flight AF-218A Monday. It left Paris at 2.15 p.m. Monday and arrived in Mumbai early Tuesday.
However, the airline said its employees provided assistance to all passengers, who were offered beverages, snacks and amenity kits.
"The passengers were subsequently transferred to their hotels and informed of the flight departure time for the following day. But 52 of them were unfortunately obliged to remain in the airside section of the terminal until 5 a.m. as they needed visas," it added.