An Air India (AI) flight carrying more than 100 passengers from Sharjah to Calicut on Friday had to be stopped at the Mumbai airport, after the crew detected a snag mid-air. While the Airbus 320 landed safely, the three-hour delay in arranging for an alternative aircraft irked the passengers.
Around 10.30am, the cockpit crew of the flight (AI 998) reported a technical snag to the city air traffic control (ATC) and sought permission to land on priority. According to the Mumbai airport officials, the flight landed on ‘local standby’, a precaution level below full emergency.
An AI spokesperson confirmed the diversion. “The flight AI 998 was diverted to Mumbai because of a technical snag. An alternative aircraft was arranged, which flew passengers to Calicut at 3.30pm,” said the spokesperson.
Angry with the unscheduled halt, fliers got into a confrontation with airport officials. “We were stuck at the airport for more than an hour without any information on the revised schedule,” said a passenger.
Eventually, the airport security department had to be called in. “The passengers started shouting anti-Air India slogans. Before the situation got uglier, the airline announced that a spare aircraft was being arranged,” said a senior official with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
Some passengers, who were headed to the Gulf and had a connecting flight from Calicut, feared the delay could cost them a lot. “We might have to return home as our visas may expire owing to the delay,” said another passenger requesting anonymity.
Aircraft snags have been one of the major reasons behind flight disruptions. According to the data from the civic aviation ministry, technical snags led to 13.5% domestic cancellations in January, and aborted 29.3% journeys in March. Snag-induced flight delays also grew from 3% in January to 6% in March, the data stated.