The Air India flight (AI-850) was supposed to take off from Pune at 6.50pm and land in Delhi by 9.05pm. Muqaddas Ansari, a flyer who reached Delhi around 6pm on Friday, said, “The flight took off on time, but all went haywire while approaching Delhi. The captain of the flight announced that they would not be able to land due to weather issues and the flight would be diverted to Jaipur,” Ansari told TOI.
He said the aircraft then kept flying for a long time. “We don’t know what went wrong. Someone said the aircraft was not getting permission to land in Jaipur. It finally landed at the Gwalior airport around 12.30am,” Ansari said.
Every flight has a list of reserve airports, which can be used in case of emergencies. It is a part of the flight plan. Also, luggage is offloaded at times so that an aircraft can have enough reserve fuel to fly in case of an emergency and cannot land at the designated airport.
Ansari said, “A little while after the plane landed in Gwalior, lights went off and the air-conditioner stopped. Some flyers lost patience and started shouting but no answer came from the crew. Many flyers said they were not feeling well due to the heat.”
He said, “A cabin crew member said since Gwalior was an IAF (Indian Air Force) base, they were getting permission from the authorities to get the passengers offloaded. After a long time, the doors opened. But the flyers were not offloaded.”
Ansari said, “I could see a fuel tanker arriving and pumping fuel into the aircraft, after which the lights came back and ACs also started functioning. For more than three hours, we sat in the plane. We were finally transferred to the terminal building around 3.30am.”
Ansari said once at the terminal building, passengers were given the choice to either stay in hotels or travel to Delhi by road as the aircraft would not fly because of technical issues.
“They arranged some cabs and a Volvo bus. Around 30 of us got into the bus and we reached the Delhi airport at 6.30pm on Friday. We had started from Gwalior for Delhi around 9am on Friday. It was a nightmarish trip for us and many other flyers, including some foreigners,” Ansari said.
TOI contacted an Air India spokesperson about the problem. A statement from him was awaited till going to press.