Lufthansa strike: Commotion in Delhi’s T3 airport after airline cancels flights
The agitated family members, relatives and friends of the stranded passengers were demanding a refund of money or alternate arrangements to be made for the passengers
A huge crowd gathered outside the departure area of Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport late Thursday night after nearly 150 people, including family members and relatives of passengers, protested against the cancellation of two international flights of Lufthansa Airlines without prior intimation, leaving the 700 passengers stranded, the IGI unit of Delhi Police said on Friday.
The gathering of the crowd led to traffic chaos and passengers arriving at the departure area of the airport were inconvenienced.
The people dispersed after senior police officers, including deputy commissioner of police (IGI Airport) Tanu Sharma, arrived there and intervened to open channels of communication between the airlines and passengers that eventually normalised the situation at gate number 1 of the departure area, the police said.
The agitated family members, relatives and friends of the stranded passengers were demanding a refund of money or alternate arrangements to be made for the passengers, who were present inside the terminal building.
The two flights were cancelled by the Lufthansa headquarters due to a one-day worldwide strike announced by all pilots of the airlines to push their demands for salary appraisals, said DCP (IGI Airport) Tanu Sharma.
The two flights that were cancelled were LH761 (Delhi to Frankfurt) and LH763 (Delhi to Munich).
The flight scheduled for Frankfurt had to carry 300 passengers and was to depart from Terminal 3 of the IGI Airport at 2:50am on Friday.
The other flight which was scheduled to carry 400 passengers to Munich was to depart from the same terminal at 1:10am.
The passengers had already arrived with their relatives and entered the Terminal building, the police said.
Lufthansa in a statement on Thursday said, “The strike announced by the pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) for Friday (September 2) will have a massive impact on flight operations.
Lufthansa has to cancel 800 flights at its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich for Friday and around 1,30,000 passengers will be affected.” the statement read.
Passengers stuck at the Delhi airport were meanwhile busy trying to reach out to the airline via its helpline number, or through social media.
Khush Pandher, wrote on Twitter,” My sister is stuck at Delhi Airport. There are no staff at the airport to help and your (Lufthansa) customer service is hanging up on us? I have been trying to seek help on the phone for the last five hours. What should we do? (sic).”
Ishanpreet Singh, another passenger, said he had been stuck at the airport for nearly 8 hours, waiting from 8 pm onwards until around 4 am.
“We were stuck at the airport for over 8 hours due to the strike by Lufthansa and when we asked about hotel accommodation as we had senior citizens with us, we were told we could only claim ₹6,000,” he said, stating no alternate flight had been booked for them yet and they were around 300kms from home.
“After protesting, all we received were sticks and no compensation,” he added.
An airport official said since the majority of the ruckus occurred outside, police and CISF personnel were quick to disperse the crowd.
DCP Sharma said the IGI Airport police received information at 12:15am on Friday in which it was conveyed that a crowd had gathered on the main road in front of departure gate number 1 of Terminal 3, IGI Airport.
The police team immediately reached the spot and found that nearly 150 people were present there because of which the traffic movement was slowed down.
Upon enquiry, it was found that two international flights of Lufthansa Airlines were cancelled and the crowd was demanding for return of money or alternate arrangements to be made for their relatives who were present inside the Terminal building.
“When they were informed that the flights had been cancelled without any prior intimation, they became agitated. The staff of the IGI airport along with personnel of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) handled the situation. The gathering dispersed shortly. Efforts are being made to make alternate arrangements for the passengers by the airline company,” added DCP Sharma.