Confusion prevailed at the airport here following the nationwide flash strike by a section of employees of Air India on Tuesday. The arrival/departure of many flights was delayed and passengers had to wait for hours with no communication on alternative arrangements, airport sources said.
The Air India flight in which Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi arrived here from Coimbatore was delayed by more than two hours. Air India employees at the airport told reporters that they had been told by their colleagues in New Delhi about the decision by union leaders to resort to the flash strike that began around noon.
Passengers bound for Singapore and other destinations said they waited for hours after collecting boarding passes and there was no information on why the flights were delayed.
The Chennai-Singapore flight AI 448 was scheduled to take off at 1.20 p.m. About 150 passengers with boarding passes, including some senior citizens on wheel-chairs, waited with no information on departure, the sources said. “There was no Air India official present to explain the delay. It was only after some passengers took up the issue with security personnel that a couple of officers came to say that some employees had commenced a flash strike. There was no contingency plan…,” M. Velmurugan, a passenger bound for Singapore, told The Hindu.
Airport officials said more than 500 members of various Air India employee unions had taken part in the strike.
An Air India official said flights till noon were normal. There was only a delay and no flight was cancelled. “Following the delay, we arranged lunch/snacks for the passengers. Talks are on in New Delhi and the strike can be called off anytime. If the uncertainty persists, the passengers will be accommodated in other flights. We have provided accommodation for some passengers in hotels,” he said.
An Air India flight to Colombo scheduled to leave at 12.15 p.m. left two hours late while another to Madurai was delayed by 90 minutes. The flight from Coimbatore, carrying Mr. Karunanidhi, was scheduled to arrive at 1.45 p.m., but landed at 4.10 p.m, the sources added.