A hundred Air India passengers took over nine hours to fly from Mumbai to Delhi on Tuesday, thanks to weather conditions, pilots’ duty timings and VIP movements. The journey normally takes an hour and 40 minutes.
Air India flight IC 806 took off from the Chhatrapati Shivaji airport at 8 am and was to land in the capital at a little before 10 am. The flight circled Delhi’s Indira Gandhi airport for 30 minutes because of heavy fog and was subsequently diverted to Ahmedabad, where it landed at 11 am.
Around the same time, the Delhi airport was ready to allow flights to land. But by then the pilot and four cabin crew members walked out citing the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) duty timings limitations that do not permit them to fly more than eight hours non-stop.
Passengers were asked to de-plane as the next available Air India flight was at 8.30 pm, but they refused. The protest forced the airline to send an alternative crew on a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai at 1 pm. This flight was delayed due to air congestion at Ahmedabad airport, which was busy because of VIPs pouring in for Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony.
The alternative crew reached at 3.30 pm and the Delhi flight took off soon after. It landed at IGI airport at around 5.30 pm.