Hundreds of GoAir passengers were stranded at the Mumbai airport on Thursday after an unmanned passenger coach rolled into a parked aircraft that was scheduled to take off hours later.
The Airbus A320 will stay grounded for at least a week after its nose wheel was severely damaged in the incident. The possibility of changes in the airline's schedule has not been ruled out.
Preliminary investigation by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) found that the incident took place around 5am owing to negligence by the driver of the Jet Airways' passenger bus. As per routine procedure, engines of all passenger coaches are switched on about an hour before airlines start boarding passengers in the morning. In this case, the driver forgot to apply the handbrakes when he stepped off the coach. A few minutes later, the unmanned bus started rolling back. The driver, who was inspecting another coach at the time, noticed the moving bus moments before it hit the nose wheel. He tried to drive another bus into its path, but was too late, said DGCA sources.
GoAir cancelled three flights - two Delhi-bound flights from city and a Mumbai-bound flight from the capital on Thursday, owing to the incident. An airline spokesperson said that a flight each from from Delhi to Patna and Goa were delayed by nearly two hours.
"We are taking all possible measures to assist passengers and a management team has been deputed at the airport to coordinate assistance," said a GoAir spokesperson. A Jet Airways spokesperson said the airline has ordered an internal inquiry into the incident.
The incident is likely to hamper GoAir flight schedules for the next few days, said travel agents. "Travel agents have been getting panic calls from passengers booked to travel later this week since flight schedules are likely to change," said Iqbal Mulla, president, Travel Agents Association of India.
"With changes in flight schedules, some people might be forced to re-book their connecting flights," Mullah added.