‘Hijacking’ of passengers

NO PANIC. Flight IX 4422 was not hijacked as it was initially reported by some news channels in India on Friday. The commander reportedly panicked and pressed the alert button when enraged passengers allegedly pushed him into the cockpit.

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sat 20 Oct 2012, 9:09 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 12:53 AM

True, commandos immediately cordoned off the area and the whole situation turned out to be yet another sadly self-created story by the carrier. Another case of a complete breakdown of communication among the management, the cockpit and cabin crew and the passengers.

Let’s get the scenario clear to be objective. Budget carrier Air India Express’s early morning flight to Kochi from Abu Dhabi on Friday was diverted to the Kerala capital due to weather conditions and this was announced over the public announcement system by the commander. The skipper said the flight would take off for Kochi from Thiruvananthapuram once the weather cleared. The new generation B-737 touched down at approximately 6am in Thiruvananthapuram, and finally took off for Kochi well past 2pm with a new crew.

All the passengers on arrival had more or less the same thing to say, something that was spontaneous: “We were kept waiting for hours in the aircraft before they even had the basic decency to talk to us. Children including infants on ground in an aircraft for so many hours in the hot weather is not a joke. The pilot finally said that the duty time of his crew was over and ‘told’ us to avail of surface transport to Kochi. The front row passengers pressed for an answer. Six of them were detained by the security force for hours without proper explanation. We did not get drinking water and were told not to visit the rest rooms.”

The Air India low-cost carrier’s story is another addition to a long list of perennial problems the parent company faces, many of which seem irreparable. This is not an attack on the organisation but a courtesy call from most of the Indians here who still stick to the formula of reaching home ‘cheaper and quicker’.

On the positive side, the budget airline, which unlike most of its competitors, provides a decent hot meal choice and ample leg room space.

The latest melodrama is not a new development. Most of the NRIs, blackmailed by the availability factor of daily flights to their chosen destinations, still keep flying the airline, no matter what takes place, including delays, cancellations and mismanagement.

The average Gulf passenger is taken for granted as always. He or she is meek when compared to the kind of demands normally shown by travellers in the more ‘glamorous’ sectors.

The question is — for how long will the carrier shy away from the problem of indecision when handling such situations, which has become a common occurrence. Safety is top priority for any aviation firm but inept handling of issues, such as ground services coordination in the case of long delays on ground without catering and proper air conditioning, are sadly not part of the airline’s working manuals.

More news from