About 800 passengers were saved from getting stranded as the airline chose Thiruvananthapuram as its alternative port of call for all Kochi services.

Air India Express, which once faced the passenger ire for disruption of flight services, came in for praise from Cochin airport authorities for its commendable work on Tuesday.

About 800 passengers were saved from getting stranded as the airline decided to choose Thiruvananthapuram as its alternative port of call for all Kochi services.

“That decision was taken at 11 a.m. soon after the Kochi airport was closed. Though there was a review of the situation at 2.30 p.m, we didn’t wait for it. This meant that our first Kochi-bound service from Muscat scheduled for 1.20 p.m. departure flew straight to Thiruvananthapuram,” Aby George, airport services manager, Air India Express, said.

Three more services bound for Kochi from Sharjah, Salalah, and Dubai were also diverted to Thiruvananthapuram airport.

The passengers were informed about the arrangement in advance enabling them to contact their relatives who were to receive them at the airport.

While some relatives received the passengers at Thiruvananthapuram, the airline deployed six luxury coaches to drop the remaining Kochi-bound passengers.

The airline focused on Kochi-bound services considering the rush on account of Ramzan.

“Had we rescheduled even one aircraft it would have created a huge backlog in addition to causing us additional expenses by way of providing the passengers accommodation,” Mr. George said.

The airline also operated its Kochi-Dubai service as Thiruvananthapuram-Dubai service at the scheduled time of 4.40 a.m. on Tuesday.

This also proved significant as the same flight operate as Dubai-Lucknow-Dubai before operating to Kochi. So in one stroke the airline saved all its services as also the travel plans of nearly thousand passengers, Mr. George said.

Earlier, Cochin International Airport Limited managing director V.J. Kurian had showered praises on the airline during a press meet held on Tuesday afternoon.

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