Strike by pilots surprised passengers, airline

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 09, 2009 00:41 IST

Thousands of passengers were stranded at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport on Tuesday after more than 300 pilots of Jet Airways decided to go on mass leave.

The new domestic departure terminal 1D of the airport witnessed some chaos in the morning when passengers queued up at the counters to get a refund of ticket amount of cancelled flights.

More than 50 Jet Airways flights were cancelled at Delhi alone, including arrivals and departures. All morning flights were cancelled and things improved only slightly by evening when some flights operated.

Most of the passengers said the airline didn’t inform them on time about the cancellations, or weren't informed at all.

“I only got to know about the pilot's strike when I switched on the TV in the morning by chance. The airline didn't bother to send me an SMS or call to inform,” said Mohammed Riyazuddin, who was travelling to Mumbai.

“I have to take a connecting Jet Airways flight to Riyadh in the evening and the airline staff here has no clue if that flight is operating.”

Samir Bhattacharya, an employee of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, said the airline never informed him about the cancellation of his flight to Hyderabad.

“We arrived from Dehradun in a Kingfisher flight and had a connecting flight to Hyderabad, which has been cancelled without any prior information.”

“What is the point of giving my phone number while booking the ticket if they don't inform us on time?” said P.S. Rawat, Bhattacharya's colleague.

A Jet Airways spokeswoman said many passengers couldn't be informed in time because the pilots suddenly went on mass leave after calling off a possible strike on Monday night.

“They deliberately started reporting late for duty sighting sickness and all this happened so suddenly that we didn't get enough time to inform many passengers,” she said.

“This is a shame for India and I will never come here. I am with my 80-year-old mother who is a heart patient. We were not informed about the cancellation and when we reached to airport, the airline staff were clueless,” said Tilek (who goes by only one name), who had come from Italy and had to take a flight to Udaipur.

Among those caught unawares were senior BJP leader Prakash Javdekar and cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Azharuddin.

Jet Airways transferred many passengers to other airlines like Air India.

Some passengers also alleged that when they decided to switch to other airlines, they suddenly hiked their ticket prices.


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