More than 200 Indian Haj pilgrims, many of them from the UAE, had been left in limbo for more than 24 hours at the Goa International Airport as a special Haj flight operated by Air India did not show up at the airport. Several NRIs scheduled to take the flight voiced concerns over the matter.
Speaking with Khaleej Times, Rizwan S., an Indian expatriate based in the UAE, said, “When we came to the airport, there was no flight at all. The officials kept telling us that the flight would arrive anytime and they were clueless. Ultimately, we went to a Haj camp near the airport which was operated by the Haj committee.”
The Goa-Madina flight was originally scheduled for take off at 2.30pm (Indian time) on Wednesday.
“We were informed to come early since flights are full and check-in procedures can take time. We ourselves were surprised when the airline authorities told us they didn’t know about the flight,” said another passenger who did not wish to be named.
A source at Air India, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the flight was delayed by several hours and alternative arrangements were being made to assist the pilgrims. Passengers were allowed to check-in only on Thursday evening and a special flight was commissioned from Delhi to pick up the passengers.
The passengers were travelling as part of arrangements made by the Haj Committee of India. A similar incident was reported on August 30, when a batch of pilgrims travelling from Mangalore to the holy city of Madina was delayed by five hours.
Air India officials did not revert to Khaleej Times’ request for comment at the time of going to press.
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