For AI, flying spares was more important than passengers, until official intervened

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Passengers of an Air India Delhi-Bhubaneswar direct flight were Thursday saved the ordeal of having to take a long detour via Guwahati amid some high drama at the IGI airport, thanks to the intervention of a secretary-level bureaucrat who was on the flight.

As the passengers waited to board flight AI-473, they were informed by the state-owned carrier that the flight had been rescheduled to first go to Guwahati to drop spare parts for a aircraft grounded there. An airport source said the announcement caused the 100-odd passengers to protest against the route-change.

The airline was forced to change its mind and fly to Bhubaneswar as originally scheduled, and then carry the spares to Guwahati, only after the senior bureaucrat told the civil aviation ministry about Air India’s indifferent attitude towards passengers, forcing it to intervene.

The official, sources said, also warned the airline not to divert a scheduled direct flight to drop spares and inconvenience passengers.

Reached for comment, an Air India spokesperson confirmed the incident and said: “We had to drop off man and material for a grounded Airbus 320 aircraft at Guwahati airport.”

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