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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Air India to probe 'hijack' episode

IANS  Thiruvananthapuram, October 19, 2012
First Published: 20:01 IST(19/10/2012) | Last Updated: 20:33 IST(19/10/2012)

Friday's episode of some passengers being allegedly beaten up by security personnel at Thiruvananthapuram airport after an Air India Express flight from Abu Dhabi bound for Kochi was diverted to Thiruvananthapuram because of bad weather will be probed by the airline, according to an official.

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Speaking to IANS, Abey George, manager, corporate communications, Air India Express, termed the entire episode "unfortunate".

"Yes, there will be an official probe by the flight safety division of our airlines as well as by the directorate general of civil aviation. The commander of the flight, W Rupali has also lodged a complaint at the local police station near the airport and the co-pilot has filed a complaint at a police station near the Kochi airport," said George.

The local police station, based on the complaint of Rupali, has registered a case against six passengers.

Trouble started at 7am when the flight landed at the capital city airport after it was diverted from Kochi due to bad weather. Passengers were told they would have to travel by road to Kochi.

Annoyed at this, passengers protested as the distance by road between the two cities is nearly 220km. The passengers' anger forced the woman pilot to send an alert to air traffic control, an official said.

When they heard that the pilot, whose duty hours were over, would leave the cockpit, passengers in the aircraft rushed to stop her.

Soon afterwards, the commander of the aircraft flashed a message across the country that the aircraft has been "hijacked". Authorities swung into action.

Meanwhile, the absence of the Air India station manager, SBS Jacobs, was also noted as he had left for Mumbai when the episode in Thiruvananthapuram began.

George clarified that the catering department of the airline had served water and juice to the passengers, and refuted allegations by some passengers that they were deprived of even water after landing in Thiruvananthapuram.

Finally at 1.50pm following long discussions between top officials of police, airline and the airport, the flight took off for Kochi with a different set of crew on board.

Passengers were still angry when they alighted in Kochi an hour later.


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