Flight delayed due to VIP pressure, alleges BJD MP; Air India denies

An Air India flight to Bhubaneswar from here was delayed by five hours allegedly due to pressure by some VIPs, who forced the national carrier to schedule the aircraft along with its crew to Bhopal, a charge denied by the airline.

Air India operated its flight to Bhubaneswar at around 12.30 am today against its scheduled departure at 7.30 pm yesterday. “Our flight from here was held back by Air India as the airline deployed the plane and crew bound for Bhubaneswar on its Delhi-Bhopal flight,” BJD Member of Parliament Tathagat Satpathy, who was flying to Bhubaneshwar by the same flight, said.

Satpathy, who staged a protest outside the airport against the delay, alleged that Air India rescheduled its Bhubaneswar flight due to some VIPs, who forced the airline to assign the aircraft for Bhopal.

The national carrier, however, said it did not give preference to any particular flight and the alleged delay was caused due to the heavy fog at the Delhi airport yesterday, which had sent flight schedule of all airlines including that of the Air India topsy turvy.

Due to heavy fog from yesterday morning and resultant delays, most of the crews’ duty time was limiting later on in the day. Crews were planned as per their arrivals from earlier flights, back to Delhi and sequenced based on the duty time remaining, Air India said. “At no time did AI give any preference to any particular flight. Arriving and available crews duty time remaining as per regulations was checked and they were scheduled for the flights based on time and sequence,” it said.