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?Incredible India? campaign failed to take off

A flight that just wouldn?t take off left Air-India and the tourism ministry squirming with embarrassment.

india Updated: Oct 29, 2005 12:33 IST

A flight that just wouldn’t take off left Air-India and the tourism ministry squirming with embarrassment on Tuesday evening. The usual excuse: flight delayed because of technical snag.

Tourism minister Renuka Choudhary and civil aviation minister Praful Patel were in Indira Gandhi International Airport to flag off an “Incredible India” promo campaign — a joint initiative of the tourism ministry and Air-India. Only, the plane wouldn’t start.

By then, the two ministers had made the most of the photo-op, generously posing for photographers near the AI 302 (Mumbai-Delhi-Bangkok-Tokyo), which sported the Incredible India logo on its tail. It’s a different matter that the logo was too small and passengers thought it could have been a bigger.

But as the plane prepared to roll on the runway, one of the three engines wouldn’t start. So, the process was interrupted before the plane reached the runway. At about 9.30 p.m., senior Air India officials said that they too were baffled as the aircraft was “fine when it took off from Mumbai and even when it reached Delhi”. So, no one was actually able to figure out why the engine failed. Officials were left mouthing the stock line: “We can't take chances with people’s safety. If it doesn’t start within the next half an hour, we’ll check in passengers into a hotel and send them on the next flights out.”

This is the third incident of its kind in three days. On Sunday, 168 passengers booked on the Kolkata-Delhi-Frankfurt-Los Angeles flight had heated arguments with Air-India officials. The flight A-I 137 was to take off on Saturday morning, but could not due to a “technical snag”.

The passengers were asked to report at the airport at 2 a.m. on Sunday. But the flight was cancelled again, this after the passengers had boarded the plane.
The flight eventually took off on Monday morning — 48 hours after it was originally scheduled for departure.

On Sunday, 110 Bangladeshi transit passengers spent over 24 hours in the airport waiting for their Dubai-bound flight to take off. AI 747 failed to take off due to a technical snag.
While people boarding from Delhi were told not to report at the airport, the Bangladeshis were not even provided food let alone hotel rooms.

First Published: Sep 28, 2005 20:10 IST