Passengers of a SpiceJet flight from Bagdogra to Bangalore that landed in Kolkata for refuelling on Wednesday sat in front of the aircraft in the apron area of the city’s airport, protesting the airline’s decision to fly them on another aircraft.
Kolkata airport officials said the passengers got agitated because of the delay at the airport. They said some crew members had reached their flight duty time limit and were unable to fly immediately.
Finally, SpiceJet arranged another crew and the same aircraft left Kolkata more than three hours after it had landed.
The airline said in a statement: “SpiceJet Flight SG 328 dated 25th of May 2022 operating from Bagdogra to Bengaluru was facing payload issues during departure owing to tailwinds, heavy rains and shorter runway owing to runway maintenance…. To prevent offloading of passengers and baggage it was decided to refuel in Kolkata. After refuelling in Kolkata the flight departed with a fresh set of crew.”
The directorate general of civil aviation, regulatory body for commercial airlines in India, has specified maximum flying hours for domestic and international pilots and cabin crew. After the limit is reached, the pilots and crew members have to rest before being allowed to fly again.
Flight SG 328, carrying 189 passengers, landed in the city at 2.26pm for refuelling, said airport officials.
“After landing, because of the flight duty time limitation, some crew members were not able to fly. SpiceJet told passengers that they would arrange another aircraft and crew. Passengers refused to change aircraft. They instead sat in front of the aircraft in the apron area. CISF personnel were deployed to ensure safety at the air side,” said an airport official.
CISF and SpiceJet personnel asked passengers not to cross into the taxiway, which is used by aircraft to move in and out of the runway.
The aircraft finally took off at 5.45pm after the airline arranged for a different crew, the official said.