Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann rescheduled his return journey from Frankfurt in a last-minute change for taking another flight to Delhi on Sunday.
He was on a trip to Germany from September 11 to 18 in order to attract investments and strategic tie-ups in various sectors. Now, he will be returning in the early hours of September 19. “The Punjab Chief Minister has delayed his departure as he was reportedly unwell,” said an official.
A State government source confirmed to The Hindu that Mr. Mann did not board the scheduled flight as per the fixed schedule. Mr. Mann along with the team of officials was dropped at the Frankfurt airport by cabs. However, after he was dropped the India Consulate reportedly again informed the cab staff to pick up the Chief Minister from the airport as he didn’t board the aeroplane, said the source.
When asked about the issue, Chander Suta Dogra, the AAP’s director of media communication, said: “Mr. Mann was a little unwell and he would catch a flight later tonight from Frankfurt and would be back.”
Lufthansa’s LH 760 was scheduled to depart at 1.40 p.m. local time from Frankfurt airport. It was already delayed by “three hours” because of a late inbound flight and an aircraft change, but was further delayed because of a heated exchange between some passengers and the cabin crew, according to an eyewitness.
“A person donning a white kurta-pyjama and resembling Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann entered the aircraft along with other passengers... after some time four or five of them left the aircraft,” said the eyewitness who did not want to be identified.
The pilot later announced that some passengers had to leave and that there would be a slight delay as their baggage was being removed from the plane. The flight scheduled to depart at 1.40 p.m. local time took off at 4.30 p.m. and landed in Delhi at 4.40 a.m. IST.
“Our flight from Frankfurt to Delhi departed later than originally planned due to a delayed inbound flight and an aircraft change. For data protection reasons we do not provide any information regarding individual passengers,” a Lufthansa spokesperson said in response to a query.
The Chief Minister’s visit starting September 11 was to attract investments and strategic tie-ups in sectors such as renewable energy, car manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, advanced agricultural practices, among others. He had meetings with leading companies such as BMW and was scheduled to visit Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin.
On September 9, the Punjab government had issued a release stating that in a bid to give a major push to industrial growth of the State, Mr. Mann would be undertaking the tour.
Navneet Wadhwa, media in-charge of the Chief Minister’s office, said while no specific time was mentioned in the itinerary, Mr. Mann’s departure from Frankfurt to India was slated for September 18. “The Chief Minister was supposed to be in Germany till September 18 as per the schedule,” he said.