Air India on Thursday shifted its entire domestic operations to terminal 3 of the IGI Airport in New Delhi but delayed flights, long wait for baggage, missing crew and confusion for passengers marred the first day.
Even Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and her fellow partymen, who had boarded AI flight to Kolkata (IC-264), had to wait for about three hours before her flight finally took off at around 7 pm, sources said.
"The flight crew got stuck in the traffic near Mahipalpur on NH-8 en-route T3. Since no other set of crew was available, the flight could only be operated after they arrived," they said.
The crew for the Kolkata flight was sent on a Bangalore flight, which was scheduled to operate in the afternoon, and there was no spare crew to operate Banerjee's flight.
Air India shifted its entire domestic operations from T1A to T3 from 0001 hours as scheduled. The domestic flight to depart from T3 was IC 867 to Goa which was pushed back from the aerobridge on schedule at 0455 hours. The first domestic flight to arrive at T3 was IC 601 from Mumbai at 0755 hours.
The airlines managed to handle the flight operations smoothly during the initial hours, but as the day progressed, the flights started to get delayed.
"In the first phase of operations using base aircraft, Air India managed 100 per cent on-time performance. However, the second phase of operations with incoming aircraft of other bases saw some consequential delays due to late arrival of aircraft," an airline official said.
About 6,300 passengers had booked tickets to fly out of Delhi to various domestic destinations on 45 flights.
Though the airline passengers were informed about the shifting of terminal through short message service (SMS) and calls to passengers from the call centre but many a people had reached the old terminal (T1A).
"Adequate number of vehicles were kept on standby at the terminal 1A to provide free transfer services to passengers who turned up at the old terminal," the official said.
The airline operated a total of 45 departures and 40 arrivals were from T3 till evening.
Passengers, who arrived on a domestic flight, had to wait for about half an hour to deboard the plane after landing, as sources said airport staff were facing problems in docking the aerobridge with the aircraft.
Flyers complained about the long wait for getting their baggage. There were also reports of problem in check-in as the terminal went out of order for half-an-hour due to which long queues were seen at the counters for Kochi, Bhopal and Patna-bound flights.