- Nearly 125 passengers including Civil Aviation Minister had to wait
- Delhi-Vijaywada flight was delayed by over 1.5 hours on Wednesday
- Ashok Gajapati Raju phoned Air India chief from the aircraft
The minister demanded an explanation from new Air India Chairman And Managing Director Pradeep Kharola as angry passengers confronted him and demanded to know why their flight from Delhi to Vijaywada was not taking off.
Mr Raju, surrounded by protesting passengers, phoned Mr Kharola from the aircraft.
The Air India chief has reportedly taken serious note of the incident, attributed to "coordination issues" between two departments of the airline. He has called a meeting of senior officials, say sources.
The airline's spokesperson, GP Rao, confirmed that flight AI 459 yesterday morning was delayed by around one and a half hours.
"Passengers protested and questioned minister Raju on the delay in the flight. Immediately the minister asked Air India CMD Pradeep Kharola about the reason for the delay," Mr Rao told news agency ANI.
The flight was to take off at 6 am but the airline's operation wing reportedly decided to wait for better visibility. This was apparently not communicated to the ground staff, who started boarding on the aircraft as scheduled.
The flight was delayed even more when the pilot was reportedly stopped at the security check over a problem with his airport pass. Only the co-pilot could reach the plane on time.
Reports say the pilot finally reached around 15 minutes late.
It is not the best start for Mr Kharola, a senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who took charge of Air India on Monday. He is helming the airline at a time the government has started the process for its strategic disinvestment.
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