Eighteen passengers of an Alliance Air flight from Hyderabad to Pune, with a stopover in Nashik, had to be ferried by road on the second leg of their journey, after a delay at the originating airport meant that the plane could not have arrived at Pune before its airport closed operations for civilian aircraft for routine Air Force sorties.
Pune airport, which is a defence airport, closes civilian traffic everyday for a few hours to let Air Force carry out its regular drills.
On Saturday, the time slot for the Air Force lasts a little longer. This is the reason why most of the civilian traffic in Pune in concentrated in the evening and night hours.
The flight was coming from Hyderabad to Pune via Nashik and was supposed to depart from Hyderabad at 6.05 am and land at Pune airport at 9.30 am on Saturday.
However, because of a delay at Hyderabad, it was decided that the flight would be terminated at Nashik and passengers were informed accordingly at Hyderabad airport. Of the 28 passengers, 10 decided to pull out and 18 agreed to proceed. The flight departed for Nashik at 8 am.
An Alliance Air spokesperson said the delay was a spillover from the previous day. “The flight had to be can celled (in Nashik) because of previous day’s delay of other flights. This resulted in less resting time for the crew. The flight was coming in the NOTAM time zone (at Pune) after the crew regulatory time was complied with. Surface transport facility was ensured for all the passengers and they reached Pune successfully.”
NOTAM, or Notice to Airmen, is routinely issued to all aircraft carriers to advise them on blockages, closures and dangers on their flight paths.
“As many as 28 passengers had initially booked tickets for the flight. It took a lot of effort to explain to them why the flight would not go to Pune and assure them seats in a Hyderabad-Pune direct flight in the evening. But 10 passengers backed out and the flight took off for Nashik around 8 am,” the airline said.
“The flight usually arrives in Nashik at 8 am and reaches Pune by 9.30 am on Saturdays. Today, the flight got delayed at Hyderabad and reached Nashik at 10 am, and by that time NOTAM was in place and the runway at Pune airport was to be closed for maintenance,” the official said.
Passengers expressed their frustration on social media after being informed about the plan to take them to Pune via road by booking four cabs.
“This is the pathetic condition of Air India travellers....” tweeted Kemburu Sateesh Kuma.