Flight carrying Mamata Banerjee was delayed not because of fuel shortage. Instead, pilots of the flight were "crying wolf" and played "naughty" to seek early landing to show good on-time performance
A huge controversy had erupted on November 30 when an IndiGo flight carrying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hovered in the air for around 30-40 minutes over Kolkata airport. Trinamool Congress (TMC) alleged there was a conspiracy to kill party chief Banerjee as she had raised her voice against demonetisation.
Leading the conspiracy charge, West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim had told reporters: “This (flight delay) was a conspiracy to kill Mamata Banerjee. She is not afraid of dying. But she was concerned about the lives of other passengers.”
Hakim had alleged that Air Traffic Control (ATC) kept the flight on hold even as the pilot sought permission for landing as the plane was low on fuel. However, IndiGo had claimed that the flight delayed due to air traffic congestion over Kolkata.
It has now emerged that the flight was delayed not because of fuel shortage. Instead, the cockpit crew of the flight was “crying wolf” and played “naughty” to seek early landing to show good on-time performance, PTI reports a top Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official as saying.
Interestingly, there were two other flights — one each of Air India and SpiceJet — also in the air at the same time over Kolkata airport. The cockpit crew of all three flights had reported fuel shortage. The peculiarity of the situation had alarmed DGCA.
The official said “these pilots actually played naughty. It was like cry wolf.” According to him, all three flights had enough fuel, that could have helped them easily land twice on Kolkata airport and even at the diversionary airport in Bhubaneswar.
In the landing sequence, Air India plane was at the sixth position and IndiGo on eighth followed by SpiceJet. Despite this, IndiGo pilots sought permission to land early, claiming fuel shortage. When the ATC asked Air India pilots, as they were ahead of IndiGO, they also reported fuel shortage. Soon, the SpiceJet pilots jumped in. However, none of them demanded priority landing to avoid probe, the official said.
The DGCA has suspended six pilots of the three flights for a week and the ATC official, who handled the three flights, has been asked to undergo a “corrective training”.