CHENNAI: Scores of Indian cricket fans who booked Air India’s flight 302 to Sydney from New Delhi were left in the lurch at the IGI Airport for almost eight hours on Saturday as the flight was delayed due to the non-availability of cabin crew.
Air India is the only airline, Indian or foreign, to operate a direct flight from India to Australia and cricket fans on the way to Adelaide made up the bulk of the flyers on Saturday's 12-hour flight with each ticket costing nearly one lakh.
The flight was scheduled to take off at 1pm. Passengers who had arrived at the Delhi airport by 10am were asked to wait as the airline made “arrangements”, said sources at airport.
Finally, passengers got into heated arguments with the airline staff, and the flight with 254 passengers on board took off at 10:15pm.
The passengers travelling to watch the epic clash between India and Pakistan would not have even reached Adelaide when the match began. There was no chance of reaching on time because the flight is of 12 hours.
The national carrier has been accused of frequent delay and poor service with many of the flights getting delayed for the past few months for various reasons. The acute shortage of cabin crew has been adversely affecting its operations and on-time performance prompting the government to clear a proposal last month to hire 800 additional cabin crew.
Air India has currently over 2,500 cabin crew, including the executive officers, to man a fleet of 100 planes.
Last year, the carrier had cancelled 75 flights in June, 178 in July, 347 in August, 189 in September, 115 in October and 159 in November.
In January, the flight AI 143 from Chennai to Delhi was delayed after the pilot and the flight engineer who signed off on the planes airworthiness, had a 'disagreement' in the cockpit - and came to blows.
(With agency inputs)