KOLKATA: The direct flight from the NSCBI Airport here to London under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) for repatriation of stranded people, could not be operated on Thursday owing to last-minute non-availability of slot at the Heathrow airport in the UK, an Air India official said here.
The flight did depart from Kolkata after a delay as it had to fly via Delhi, Air India spokesman Sameek Bhattacharya said.
"This was something beyond our control as we had been assured of a slot till the sudden communication of non- availability of the same by the Heathrow authorities," he said in a statement.
Bhattacharya said that the same aircraft of Air India from Kolkata with a brief stopover at Delhi, left for London as scheduled Delhi-London VBM flight, with passengers joining from Delhi.
Slot for this flight from Delhi to London is available at Heathrow, he said.
While 72 passengers boarded the flight from Kolkata, 86 more joined the same from Delhi, he said.
"We will be in a position to operate the direct flights to London from Kolkata as soon as the slots are made available to us by the Heathrow Airport authorities, the spokesman said.
The first Vande Bharat Mission evacuation flight arrived here from London at 2.20 am on Thursday with 14 passengers, Bhattacharya said.
These repatriation flights will operate between Kolkata and London till October 24 every Thursday and Sunday, he said.