Monday, October 17, 2011

Passengers Stranded on Tarmac for 8 Hours

The Telegraph: Almost 200 passengers on board an Air India flight were stranded on the tarmac at Gatwick Airport for more than eight hours, after fog prevented the plane from touching down at London’s Heathrow.

Despite the airports being just 44 miles apart, passengers on the flight from Ahmedabad via Mumbai to Heathrow were kept on board the aircraft and complained they received no food, refreshments or information from the crew.

The flight had been due to land at Heathrow at 7.30am, but was diverted to Gatwick in Sussex because of heavy morning fog.

It is believed the crew then departed the flight and the aircraft was unable to take off again until a new team had been sent from Heathrow.

Rahul Joglekar, a BBC producer, who was on the flight used Twitter to communicate the mounting frustration on board.

He wrote: “Too much fog at Heathrow … why not let us deplane at Gatwick?”

At one point officers from Sussex Constabulary attended the scene to calm rising tension amongst those passengers who were angry at the lack of information.

Some of those on board are understood to have offered to leave the flight at Gatwick and make their own way to their final destination, but were refused permission to disembark by the airline.

Eventually after eight and a half hours on the tarmac, the new crew arrived and the flight was able to take off and make the short journey across London to Heathrow where it landed shortly before 5.20pm.

A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said: “A plane was diverted from Heathrow due to fog and landed around 8am. There was some issue with bringing a crew from Heathrow. During this time we provided every support requested of us, but all matters related to the passengers remains the responsibility of the airline.”

The spokesman said Gatwick Airport would have been happy to facilitate the disembarkation of the passengers, but the ultimate decision lay with Air India.

After finally arriving at Heathrow ten hours late, Mr Joglekar expressed his relief when he wrote: “Just landed at Heathrow. There is a God.”

No-one at Air India was available for comment.

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