In yet another debacle around flying an aircraft beyond working hours, an Air India pilot refused to fly around 100 passengers, including three BJP MPs from Rajkot to Delhi on July 23, 2023. The incident took place at the Rajkot Airport, Gujarat, where Air India was operating Flight AI404 from Rajkot to Delhi. The flight was scheduled for departure at 8.30 p.m, but was delayed due to an operational reason. More than 100 passengers, including 3 BJP MPs were left stranded at the airport, as Air India eventually cancelled the flight.
It was later learnt that the pilot of the aircraft refused to fly, citing that he had exceeded his duty hours, as per Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) norms, leaving the passengers in a state of uncertainty, reported IANS. “Subsequently, the cockpit crew came under Flight Duty Time Limit (FDTL) regulations for which they could not operate the flight as per regulatory norms. The FDTL regulation is non negotiable aspect and cannot be compromised under any circumstances,” said Air India spokesperson.
Among the passengers were Rajkot MP Mohan Kundariya, Jamnagar MP Poonam Maadam, and newly-elected Rajya Sabha MP Kesaridevsinh Jhala. While some passengers were transported to the Ahmedabad Airport to take an Air India or codeshare flight to Delhi, the rest were given hotel accommodation with all meals and their bookings rescheduled as per their desire including full refund against cancellation.
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“Certain passengers who had to reach Delhi on an urgent basis were transported by road to Ahmedabad to take an Air India or codeshare flight to Delhi. The remaining passengers were offered hotel accommodation with all meals and their bookings rescheduled as per their desire including full refund against cancellation,” the spokesperson added.
Earlier this month, around 20 to 25 students were left stranded after the cancellation of Air India flight AI 186 from Vancouver to Delhi on July 2 due to some technical issue. Describing their ordeal, the University of British Columbia (UBC) students had mentioned that the flight was initially scheduled to depart from Vancouver airport at around 10.15 a.m. on July 2 but was rescheduled twice and eventually cancelled.
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