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India

Air India flight to Hong Kong delayed by 18 hours; 236 passengers made to deboard twice

File photo for representation
NEW DELHI: Raghav Paul intentionally chose Air India’s AI 310 Delhi-Hong Kong flight — scheduled to depart on Saturday at 11.05pm — so that he could reach there early on Sunday, in time for the all-important India-Pakistan match. Otherwise, the Delhi boy studying in Hong Kong could have left his hometown 24 hours later. However, Paul and 235 other passengers were cooling their heels at Delhi airport till Sunday evening, waiting for an aircraft and crew that could take them to Hong Kong — after boarding two AI planes and, then, being asked to alight for different reasons. The flight eventually took off just before 5pm on Sunday, a delay of 18 hours.
“First, we boarded an AI Boeing 787 at 10.30pm on Saturday. That aircraft developed a snag and we were told that engineers were trying to rectify it. Then, at about 1am on Sunday, the passengers were asked to alight from the Dreamliner. At 2am, we were asked to board another aircraft. Now, after waiting for over an hour, we were told that the pilots’ maximum flight duty time was over and AI would arrange for another set of crew,” Paul said.
When perhaps that did not happen, the passengers were asked to alight from the second aircraft, too, at 4.30am on Sunday. They were sent to a hotel at nearby Aerocity from where a coach brought them back to IGI Airport’s Terminal-III at 1pm on Sunday.
An AI spokesman said the aircraft got grounded “due to engineering issues”. “We are at T3, having cleared security and immigration, but there is no word on when and if we will be flown to Hong Kong. A lot of passengers have work commitments and need to join office on Monday,” Paul fumed at 4.15pm Sunday.
Delhi-Hong Kong is just a five-hour flight.
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