Kamlesh Joshi, a tax consultant from Andheri spent about 30 minutes dragging his baggage (two large size suitcases and a handbag) from one end of the Mumbai’s long domestic terminal to the other end on Tuesday morning.
He was looking for the Delhi-bound Jet Airways flight but all the flight display monitors were blank.
Thousands of passengers, mostly business travellers like him, were stuck at the Mumbai airport as 400 Jet Airways pilots went on en mass sick leave from Tuesday morning.
“I made some 15-odd calls in half an hour,” said the 40-year-old who was scheduled to leave for Dubai after back-to-back meetings at Delhi. “I spoke to two business associates, the travel agent and my wife in one breath,” he added. He postponed the travel by a day.
Until 7 pm, 38 domestic and 14 international flights operated by Jet Airways arriving and leaving from the city were cancelled. The airline has 18.2 per cent of market share, the highest among domestic carriers. Though the airline call centre made calls and issued text messages about the last minute flight cancellations, it reached peak hour travellers a bit too late.
Sandeep Mukherjee, who had a 7 am flight to Chennai, got the intimation 30 minutes before the flight’s departure. “I was running all over the terminal but nobody seems to have any information,” said the senior executive working for an insurance company.
“The airline ticketing staff also did not offer any help,” he added.
The airline offered full refund to passengers or re-booked them on flights later this week.
Meanwhile, Jet Airways pilot on ‘sick leave’ continued to have marathon meetings at the Atithi hotel in Santacruz.
Around 10.30 pm, the airline put around 300 passengers from two flights in the IC coded Air India flight.
Later, the Mumbai airport operator asked Jet Airways to move aircraft not in use to remote parking bays to decongest the apron area. “They have moved four out of the 14 aircraft to the remote parking stands,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson.
National carrier Air India has kept aircraft and crew on stand by to mount additional flights at a short notice.