The Telegraph
Saturday , October 23 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flights go here, there, haywire

Patna, Oct. 22: Smooth take-off doesn’t necessarily mean happy landing. Around 170 passengers of two different flights of a private airline learnt it today.

Around 40-odd passengers boarded the GoAir’s Lucknow-Delhi flight this morning. But they were shocked to find themselves at the Patna airport around 9.30am. They were at their wit’s end when the airline’s employees asked them to alight to accommodate Delhi-bound Haj passengers. After their vociferous protest, the airline officials relented.

But that “robbed off” the plane of 140-odd passengers of GoAir’s Patna-Delhi-Mumbai flight. It was used to fly the Haj passengers.

The GoAir officials were not available for comment. Their cellphones were switched off till the filing of this report.

The passengers of the GoAir’s Patna-Delhi-Mumbai plane were herded into the Lucknow-Delhi flight that took a detour. After reaching Delhi, the Mumbai-bound passengers had to change the aircraft. They reached their destination in the evening, hours behind the schedule. Sources said the private airline brought their Lucknow-Delhi flight here to accommodate Haj passengers, stranded at the Patna airport from the previous night. The late night flight supposed to ferry the Haj pilgrims did not operate yesterday due to poor visibility. The move of the private airline triggered vociferous protest from the Delhi-bound passengers. They started shouting at the airline’s employees at the Patna airport. Some of them went to the office of the airport manager only to be told that Airports Authority of India (AAI) had no role in it.

Sensing trouble, the airline’s employees informed the passengers that they would go to Delhi in the same aircraft.

In the meantime, the airline sent the Haj passengers to Delhi in the Patna-Delhi-Mumbai aircraft.

Satrajit, who was booked in the Patna-Delhi-Mumbai flight of GoAir, said: “We were asked to sit on the aircraft that had come from Lucknow as our flight was used to ferry Haj passengers. The aircraft got permission to fly to Delhi at 11.45am.”

The problem of the passengers did not end here. After landing at Delhi, they were asked to change the aircraft.

“This caused further delay and I reached Mumbai at 5.30pm. I will never book a ticket in GoAir in future,” Satrajit said.

GoAir started its operation from Patna in September this year. The AAI recently issued a letter to the airline directing it to not to carry passengers from Delhi to Patna in the aircraft supposed to ferry Haj passengers.

“Despite our instructions the airline brought passengers from Delhi on the flight earmarked for Haj pilgrims and used the cargo gate to bring them out of the airport,” said the AAI official.

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