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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Pilot panics, hits hijack button

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Thiruvananthapuram, October 19, 2012
First Published: 12:29 IST(19/10/2012) | Last Updated: 23:46 IST(19/10/2012)

Tension gripped airport officials across India on Friday after the pilot of an Air India Express flight from Abu Dhabi to Kochi sent out a hijack alarm that went to all airports from Thiruvananthapuram, following vociferous protests by passengers after their plane was diverted to the Kerala capital due to bad weather at Kochi.

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After eight-hour delay at Thiruvananthapuram airport the plane was later taken to Kochi where six passengers were detained briefly for questioning.

Pilot Rupali Wagmore said she took the extreme step after angry passengers tried to enter the cockpit.

She has filed a complaint with the airport police in this regard.

All airports in the country were put on high alert after the hijack message was aired.

However passengers stoutly denied the pilot's version that they entered cockpit. Some of the passengers complained that they were roughed up by CISF personnel when they sought water.

Airport officials, who made a preliminary inquiry, admitted that the pilot reacted in panic.

Trouble began for passengers after their flight was diverted to Thiruvananthapuram due to foggy weather in Kochi.

Landed at Thiruvananthapuram airport at 6.30am passengers were promised to fly back to Kochi once the weather was cleared.


After three hours' wait they were told to go to Kochi by road which triggered protest. 

"It was inhuman treatment. Air-conditioners were switched off and we were without food and water for nearly five hours. Among passengers were five children below five and many aged," said P Shahnawas, a resident of Thrissur.

"We were given two slices of bread and water once our plight came out in media," said Thomson, another passenger.

"Air India hijacked us for 12 hours," said another passenger.

After the day-long ordeal in Thiruvananthapuram fresh troubles awaited them in Kochi.

CISF, in charge of airport security, detained six passengers for questioning.

However they were let off when fellow passengers threatened a fast outside airport.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy has ordered a probe into the incident.

"We have received a complaint from the pilot. No passenger has been booked," said state director general of police KS Balasubramaniam.


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