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Flight delayed by a day

An Air India Dimapur-Calcutta aircraft, whose tyres burst on landing at Dimapur airport on Saturday, left on Sunday morning with the passengers after engineers from Calcutta repaired the wheels.

Flight AI-705 took off from Calcutta with 168 passengers at 10.05am on Saturday and arrived in Dimapur at 12.55pm. It was scheduled to take off for Calcutta again at 1.30pm but could not because of the snag.

As there were no engineers in Dimapur to repair the tyres, the aircraft was grounded. Air India could not arrange for any alternative flight from Calcutta either, as there is no night-landing facility at Dimapur. The engineers flew to the Nagaland town on an Air India flight on Sunday morning.

The A320 aircraft with 165 passengers finally landed in Calcutta at 1.25pm on Sunday.

Although no one was hurt, passengers were disappointed as many missed their appointments in Calcutta and connecting flights from there.

The passengers also alleged that the ground staff at Dimapur did not cooperate with them and complained against “poor quality of aircraft in the eastern sector”.

A few passengers said they would lodge a complaint with the Air India authorities. “The matter needs to be investigated,” a passenger said.

Vivek Ghosal, the zonal manager of Unicharm for eastern India, was one of the passengers of the Dimapur-Calcutta flight.

“We boarded the flight at 1.15pm. Our flight was cancelled because of the tyre burst and we deplaned after waiting inside the aircraft for more than an hour,” he said.

The stranded passengers alleged that the Air India authorities could not provide any accommodation to them till 6.30pm.

“After a lot of persuasion we were finally taken to a small hotel near the airport,” said one of the passengers.

Sources said Dimapur airport could not be equipped with better facilities and equipment mainly because of the insurgency problem. “Militants have been extorting lakhs of rupees from private airlines and that is why they have stopped operating from Dimapur,” a source said.

The state government has asked the Centre for more flights but private operators are unwilling. Passengers from Nagaland have to go to Guwahati or Imphal to travel to Calcutta, New Delhi and other cities in the country.