Lashing out at Air India over the recent hijack alarm incident at the airport in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday said what had happened could only be seen as “sheer cruelty” by the airline authorities towards passengers from the state.
“The hapless passengers were even dubbed as hijackers. This is sheer cruelty. This is unfortunate. This is deplorable and we express strong protest over it,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
He said the government was “really tired” of taking up issues repeatedly with Air India with no positive response and that was the basic reason which prompted it to float Air Kerala as a state-sponsored carrier, mainly to serve non-resident Keralites working in Gulf countries.
When his attention was drawn to the reluctance of Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh to fault Air India for the airport drama, Mr. Chandy said, “He might not have understood things clearly.”
He said the passengers of the flight, diverted from Kochi, did not protest in the first two hours after landing in the state capital. They started protesting after they knew there could be a further delay in take off.
While this happened, airline authorities or flight crew did not even bother to convince the passengers citing reasons for the diversion of the flight, he said.
They did not even show the basic courtesy of providing water or snacks to the tired passengers who had by the time spent long hours on the flight after boarding from Abu Dhabi, Mr. Chandy said.
The chief minister said state police would go ahead with its probe to ascertain the actual circumstances of the incident and the factors that contributed to it.
He said Air India had been charging exorbitant rates for its services in the Kerala-Gulf sector, even higher than those charged for trips to European destinations.