NEW DELHI: Rehana Shafiq had spent some anxious moments before boarding the Jet Airways flight from Dhaka to New Delhi on Monday morning it was
only the second time the 20-year-old was travelling by air. However, just before take-off, the aircraft reportedly skidded, taxiing off the runway and moving 3.5 metres onto a grassy patch. All passengers were safe, but the flight got delayed by eight hours.
The passengers of 9W 271, who finally arrived at Delhi’s IGI Airport at 7.15pm, were a tired and irritable lot. “We spent so long sitting at the Zia Airport in Dhaka and it was only after many requests that the airline served us food,” said Ratan Chand, who came to Delhi for some work. “They kept telling us that another aircraft would be coming to take us to Delhi but nobody would say when,” he added.
Shafiq, who was returning home after seven months, said she was really shaken up by the incident. “We were taxiing normally and the pilot had to make a turn to get the aircraft onto the runway. He wasn’t able to make that turn and instead went on straight. The entire aircraft started shaking and stopped only when brakes were applied. Lots of passengers were very angry but no airline official was willing to explain the situation to us,” she said.
Passengers reportedly sat in the aircraft for almost half-an-hour before they were evacuated. Marcos Toviocasal, another passenger, said a ladder was brought to the aircraft to help them deboard. “We were then taken to the departure terminal and a while later some of us were taken to a lounge. The flight finally took off from Dhaka at 5.30pm and landed in Delhi around 7.15pm, delayed by about eight hours,” he said.
In Delhi, anxious relatives spent practically the entire day at the airport as there was no information forthcoming from the airline. Shafiq’s father, Mir Mohammed, a trader from Srinagar, said that initially the arrival time on the flight information display system (FIDS) was noon, which later changed to 12.20pm. “Then it changed to 3.15pm, then to 5.15pm and then 6.10pm. At 6.25pm, they changed it again to 7.10pm which, at 7.10pm, was again changed to 7.35pm,” he said.
Interestingly, when the flight landed around 7.15pm the FIDS made no mention of it at all. And at 7.25pm, it again showed an estimated arrival time of 7.35pm. No official of Jet Airways was around to provide information.