|The Air India flight that overshot the taxiway at the Bagdogra airport. (Kundan Yolmo)|
Siliguri, July 5: An Air India flight with 110 passengers from New Delhi swerved off the taxiway after it landed at Bagdogra airport this afternoon.
The two wheels at the right rear end of the AI 879 flight went off the taxiway when the aircraft was approaching the apron from the runway. Nobody was injured as the plane was moving slowly at the time of the incident.
The plane was brought back on the taxiway around 8.45pm, more than seven hours after it had landed at 1.09pm. The return flight, the AI 880, scheduled for 2.05pm, didn’t take off.
A total of 163 people had booked for the return flight and the Air India authorities said the plane would take off at 2pm tomorrow.
Other flights were not affected by the incident.
“The plane with 110 people on board had landed at 1.09pm. While moving through the taxiway, the right rear wheels of the plane skidded off,” said K.K. Bhowmik, the Bagdogra airport director.
He said officials of Air India, Indian Air Force and the Airports Authority of India had rushed to the taxiway immediately after the incident and helped the passengers disembark. “The passengers were taken to the terminal building from where they left for their respective destination. The IAF and Air India authorities are trying to bring the wheels back to the track,” Bhowmik said around 6pm.
He added: “Despite the accident, all other flights landed and took off as scheduled.”
The airport is under the Indian Air Force.
With the return flight to Delhi not taking off even after the scheduled time, the passengers became impatient. Many of them swarmed the Air India counter inquiring about the flight.
“There was a total mismanagement at the Air India counter. Although our flight was scheduled to leave at 2.05pm, we were not provided with any information till 5pm. When several passengers shouted near the counter, we were told around 5pm that the flight was being delayed because of technical reasons,” Pooja Oberoi, a Gangtok resident who had come to take the Delhi flight, said over the phone.
The passenger said she was supposed to take a connecting flight from Delhi and many had bookings for international flights also.
Around 6pm, the passengers, including the elderly, were told that they would be shifted to a hotel in Siliguri. The Air India officials told them that the flight would depart at 2pm tomorrow.
Asked about the complaints of mismanagement, an Air India official said on condition of anonymity: “Complaints are common in aviation, particularly when there is cancellation of a flight. We are shifting all the passengers to hotels and would provide them with a flight to Delhi tomorrow.”