It was a chaotic day at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) on Saturday. A majority of Air India pilots reported sick, leaving thousands of passengers stranded. Air India officials said they hadn’t received any official communication from the pilots and thus, had no back-up plan.
The crisis only deepened as the backlog of stranded passengers increased with every passing hour. “We are not treating this as a strike. We had to cancel flights as there was no back-up plan. Till 6pm, we had cancelled 36 flights,” a senior Air India official said.
Sixty Air India flights take off from Delhi for various various locations everyday. Till the time of going to press, only 14 flights had taken off on Saturday. The pilots’ no-show affected over 4,000 passengers. Most were not informed about the cancellations. “We are accommodating passengers in other flights and those who opted for refunds were given their money back,” the officer further said.
“It was only when I reached the airport around 11am that I was told about the cancellation. T he airline has promised to accommodate me in an alternative flight,” said Deeksha, a flyer.
Air India officials said they are coordinating with other domestic airlines to secure seats for their stranded passengers.
“We have also merged a few flights,” an Air India officer said. The airline also claimed that they distributed snacks among stranded passengers, a claim challenged by many passengers.
“They haven’t given us any food till now. We have been waiting here for almost four hours now. This is so unprofessional,” said Kamaljeet Singh, a traveller from Mumbai who was stuck at the Delhi airport.