Forty-five people travelling to Aurangabad on a Kingfisher flight were stranded at the tarmac of Mumbai airport for over two hours on November 13.
Aggrieved passengers comprising women and children claimed that the airline staff abandoned them at the tarmac after they were deplaned from a flight that developed a technical snag.
“The airline staff simply walked off. They did not explain the problem,” said Kishanchand Tanwani, one of the passengers. The flight scheduled to leave the city at 7 pm finally took off at midnight.
Leaving passengers standing on the tarmac is also a major safety violation because no unauthorised person is supposed to be near the runway. Despite that safety breach, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is yet to launch an inquiry into the matter.
The airline spokesperson blamed the passenger. “They refused to leave the tarmac,” he said.
The airline did not report the incident or call the Central Industrial Security Force or the police.
The drama started at 7.50 pm, an hour after the scheduled departure. The flight has just taxied when the pilot detected a technical snag.
Passengers were deplaned but not taken to the terminal. They were stuck at the dimly-lit tarmac without food, water and washrooms while several other flights took off and landed on the busy runway.
“We had to yell at the staff to divert their attention. One of them said that an alternative aircraft was on the way,” said another passenger.
The airline spokesperson added that after the initial delay, air traffic control (ATC) at Aurangabad airport put watch hour restrictions, which does not permit landings at smaller airports due to infrastructural limitations. “The crew ran out of the flight duty timings limitation which delayed the flight further,” he added.
Finally, the airline managed a waiver from the ATC and flew the passengers after midnight.