Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, along with his team and co-passengers numbering more than 130, were on Tuesday stranded here for more than two hours owing to the delay in arrival and departure of Air India flight IC 929/930 on the Chennai-Coimbatore-Chennai sector.

Air India sources attributed the delay to the strike by its staff and engineering teams all over the country.

Mr. Karunanidhi, who was in the city to review arrangements for the World Classical Tamil Conference on Monday, was to return to Chennai by flight IC 930 at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. However, the arrival of flight IC 929 from Chennai was delayed and it reached Coimbatore only at 1.20 p.m.

Since the departure time of IC 930 was 2.30 p.m., the Chief Minister's convoy, which was scheduled to leave at 12.20 p.m. left the hotel only at 2 p.m.

Heated exchanges

Meanwhile, agitated passengers had heated exchanges with the Air India counter staff, leading to frayed tempers and commotion. Passengers complained that the airline had failed to give a clear picture on the status of the flight, its arrival and departure.

They accused the airline of not providing food and water. When Air India authorities arranged food for the passengers, they complained that the distribution took place on the lines of a relief camp.

Later, the passengers were asked to board the aircraft around 2.20 p.m., including the Chief Minister and his team.

The departure got further delayed and finally the aircraft took off from Coimbatore at 3 p.m.