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Stranded A-I plane returns

The passengers, who said they had undergone an unexpected ordeal in the past two days in London, vent their ire at Air India officials, reports Archis Mohan.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2006 03:38 IST

Over 300 passengers of an Air India flight, stranded at London’s Heathrow airport since Thursday following a bird-hit, arrived at the Delhi airport on Sunday.

A large number of relatives were present to receive the passengers of the New York-London-New Delhi-Mumbai flight that touched down at the Indira Gandhi International Airport around 12.00 p.m.

The passengers, who said they had undergone an unexpected ordeal in the past two days in London, vent their ire at Air India officials. They accused the national carrier of having been insensitive to their needs. Several passengers said that they had to spend eight hours on Thursday night at the Heathrow airport before being put up in a cheap, ill-maintained hotel in London.

The Boeing 747-400 with 434 passengers returned to Heathrow within 20 minutes of taking off on Thursday night following the bird-hit. An engine was damaged in the incident.

Of the 434 passengers, 96 were flown to Delhi via Ahmedabad by a relief aircraft on Saturday. The Boeing 747-400 landed at the Delhi airport with the rest of the passengers on Sunday after the damaged engine was replaced.

"I had taken a fortnight's leave to attend a family function in Delhi. It has taken me five days to reach Delhi from the US. I have spent a third of my leave in travelling," said Harbans Kaur.

The 50-year-old said that Air India failed to take proper care of the passengers. "We had to spend the night of October 12 in the lawns of the airport as no accommodation was provided to us," she said. Aman Dua, another passenger on the flight, faced a similar problem. "No official from the airline was there to answer our queries. Nobody knew what was happening and where we should go. It was chaotic," Dua said.

Ajit Singh, whose wife and son were on the flight, said Air India overlooked the problems faced by the passengers on Thursday night. "My family had to spend about eight hours in the airport before arrangements for their accommodation were made," said he.

A senior Air India official said the airline did its best in trying to provide accommodation to the passengers. "These were extenuating circumstances. Hotel rooms were not immediately available but we arranged for accommodation as soon as we could. Some of the passengers were flown to Delhi on Saturday," said the general manager, who did not wish to be named.

— with agency inputs