In a major embarrassment to India’s national flag airline Air India, the Boeing 747 that landed today in Srinagar on a trail run for the first time saw its departure delayed by around two hours.
According to the sources, the main reason for the late departure of the airplane was the mis-handling of cargo by the ground staff.
“The ground staff took lot of time to handle the cargo. There was not enough ground staff present at the scene,” said a passenger travelling to New Delhi via the same plane.
The Aircraft which made its maiden landing at the Srinagar Airport is the largest aircraft operating in India. The aircraft will be used in ferrying the Hajj passengers directly to Jeddah from Srinagar airport.
“There was no delay in the departure of the flight. This is the required halt time of the aircraft,” said Air India Srinagar Manger, Muhmmad Iqbal.
However, experts in the field said that the national flag airline is incompetent and understaffed to handle the rush generated by the planes arrival and departure.
“During the trail run they had few passengers compared to the rush they will be facing during the Hajj. If they can’t handle this number, how are they supposed to handle the flights when they will be fully booked,” said an Airport authority official, wishing anonymity.
The Air India Boeing 747 flights are supposed to depart daily from the Srinagar Airport to Jeddah from 25th of this month.
Air India officials said the scheduled timing for departure of flights would be 9 am and 11.35 am.
Notably, the Boeing 747s which will be carrying around 900 passengers daily to the Jeddah from the Srinagar Airport runs on selected eight routes across India and aboard.
“It was a huge aircraft. It was to test the preparedness for the Hajj flights and it was a success,” said Sharad Kumar, Director of Airport Authority of India, Srinagar.
“There was a little delay due to the wing span of the aircraft. It took some time to move the aircraft backwards,” said Manjeet Singh, Manager operations at Srinagar Airport.
Singh said that the Airport Authority of India will use fifty more workers during the Hajj flights.
The Boeing 747 on its maiden flight to Srinagar carried 260 passengers from New Delhi, while as 407 passengers travelled to New Delhi via same flight.
* India’s largest aircraft carrier, 200 feet wing span
* Prime Minister, President of India uses one of them.
* Boeing 747 carries 425 passengers at a time.
* Landed for the first time at Srinagar Airport