For nearly an hour Pooja Kanwar was stuck in an aircraft crawling in a long queue of planes scheduled to fly out of the city on Friday.
Hundreds of fliers were stranded at the city airport on Friday after a near mishap involving a Turkish Airways flight grounded operations on the airport’s main runway.
At 4:13 am, a Turkish Airways flight, with 104 passengers and 11 crew members on board, skidded of the runway and got stuck in slush near the main runway. Consequently, five city-bound flights were diverted to other airports, while many others had to wait mid air and on the ground.
An airport spokesperson said that about 15 minutes before the incident, airport safety staff had inspected the runway. “All the air side infrastructure were operational. Two flights were also operated successfully before the incident,” said the spokesperson.
After the incident, the main runway was shut and flight movements continued from the secondary runway. However, airline schedules went awry, as the smaller runway is not equipped with ground aids necessary for low-visibility operations.
“The airline staff was clueless about the revised timings,” said Pooja Kanwar, 22, a fashion designer travelling to Bangalore.
At 8.40 am, all operations were suspended for 12 minutes when visibility dropped. A spokesperson from the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) said that the main runway would be reopened at 2.00 am on Saturday.
A Singapore Airlines flight was diverted to Bangalore, as the airline’s safety policy does not allow use of the secondary runway.
The airport staff was unable to tow the aircraft till 7pm, because cargo in the plane’s front belly made it too heavy. An external power unit was attached to the plane, to open its door.
“A notice to Airmen (NOTAM) has been issued to clear the aircraft by midnight on Friday,” said Bharat Bhushan, director general of civil aviation (DGCA).