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Odisha MP accuses Air India of bowing to VIP pressure.

A MEMBER of Parliament from Odisha sat on dharna at the IGI airport on Friday, alleging that Air India changed the destination of a Bhubaneswar- bound flight to Bhopal, which delayed the flight by almost seven hours. According to allegations made by the MP, some VIPs forced the government- owned carrier to reassign the aircraft and its crew for the Bhopal flight.

The flight -- AI 073, which was scheduled to take off for Bhubaneswar from the Indira Gandhi International Airport here for its destination at 1820 hours on Friday, departed at 0210 hours early on Saturday, after getting rescheduled four times during this period.

" Our Air India flight from Delhi was held back as the airline deployed the plane and crew bound for Bhubaneswar on its Delhi- Bhopal flight," BJD Member of Parliament Tathagata Satpathy, who was flying to Bhubaneswar on the same flight, said. Satpathy said the airline had initially rescheduled the Bhubaneswar flight to 2230 hours due to fog.

Satpathy alleged that Air India, however, later revoked cancellation of the Bhopal flight as weather conditions improved but pressed into its service the aircraft and the crew that was assigned for its Bhubaneswar service due to the pressure from a BJP minister and two judges. It left the passengers of the Bhubaneswar flight agitated and they all assembled at boarding Gate 29 A, protesting against the airline's preference to VIPs.

" I pacified the protesters and also told them not to heckle any of the security person at the gate," he said, adding " the flight finally departed after Air India deployed the crew of one of its flight that arrived from an overseas destination". Due to heavy fog on Friday morning and the resultant delays, most of the crews' duty time was limited 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 the national carrier 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, the airline said.

( With inputs from PTI) Flight & crew for Bhubaneswar flight deployed to Bhopal route By Mail Today Bureau in New Delhi

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jan 10, 2016
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