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Flight aborted, fliers in dark

Calcutta, Sept. 15: All 190 passengers had boarded the Lufthansa Airlines flight, which was about to move into the taxiway to prepare for take-off when a last-minute inspection found a snag.

At 4am, an hour and a half after the scheduled departure for Frankfurt, the passengers were asked to get off the plane but allegedly not told why.

“We went to the lounge and asked what had happened but the airline staff behaved rudely with us and only said the flight would be delayed,” said Parul Mitra, on her way to Germany to visit her son.

“It was after 4.30am that the airline officials finally told us the flight would not take off and offered hotel stay. But I preferred to return home.”

In all the time they waited inside the plane and at the lounge, no water or food was provided and the senior Lufthansa official on the spot was not available to speak to them, complained angry passengers who had spent the night at the airport.

“I checked in at 10.30 pm and around 2.15am boarded the flight,” Mitra said, adding it was very hot inside the plane “as the air conditioners were not working”.

A passenger added that there was a scuffle between another passenger and one airline staff member.

The Lufthansa spokesperson said some of the passengers were agitated but it was nothing serious. “We provided accommodation for the passengers in five city hotels.” The repair work was completed around 2pm and the aircraft, scheduled to take off from Netaji Subhas International Airport at 2.35am today, was to leave at 11.30pm.

The airline said when the plane was about to move out from the parking bay to the taxiway, ground engineers doing a last-minute check detected the snag. “There was a problem in the landing gear, so it could not be flown,” the spokesperson said.

The senior Lufthansa official at the airport “had to shuttle between the aircraft and airline counter and could not speak to the passengers”, the spokesperson added. “However, other staff interacted with them.”

In the mayhem, one passenger left his luggage behind at the international terminal by mistake, triggering a bomb scare. Bomb disposal squad personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force checked the suitcase and only found some clothes inside. The passenger, who had left for the hotel, was fined Rs 500, airport officials said.

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