In an unprecedented incident, pilot of an Air Asia India flight switched on the aircraft’s air-conditioning blower on full blast to hound the passengers to deplane, when they began to protest his decision after making them wait for over four hours inside the plane.
The incident occurred on a flight from Kolkata to Bagdogra, when the passengers had got into an altercation with plane staff over the decision of deplaning them after the flight was delayed by over four hours.
As per media reports, the air-conditioner created a fog-like situation inside the aircraft, leading to several passengers falling sick.
Indian Oil Corporation Executive Director (West Bengal) Dipankar Ray, who was also travelling in the same flight, complained of very “unprofessional and rude” behaviour from the airline staff.
“The flight was scheduled to depart at 9 am and was initially delayed by 30 minutes. After boarding, we kept sitting inside the aircraft for one-and-a-half hours with no food or water at all,” said Ray.
The flight captain then instructed all passengers to de-board without any explanation, he said.
“When passengers refused to deboard due to heavy rains outside, the captain put the air-conditioning blower on full blast to hound the passengers out. It created a scary scene as heavy fog was created inside the plane and it was very suffocating,” Ray said.
He further said that many women passengers started vomiting and children were crying.
In a video that he uploaded on his Facebook profile, it was seen that passengers were arguing with on-board staff for switching off the blower.
“This is the way aviation industry works in India. This #AirAsiaservice was particularly scary … Avoid Air Asia,” Ray said in the video post on Facebook.
In a statement, AirAsia India accepted that the flight was delayed and expressed their regrets.
“AirAsia India would like to confirm that flight i5583 from Kolkata to Bagdogra was delayed by 4.5 hours due to a technical requirement. AirAsia regrets the inconvenience caused to guests on account of this disruption and would like to reinstate that the airline always prioritises safety above all,” the company said.
It further said that there was no danger to any of the occupants on-board the aircraft as the cool conditioned air being circulated was condensing.
“This is a normal occurrence on-board all aircraft when the air conditioning is operated in high humidity conditions,” the statement said.
The company also claimed that all the affected guests were offered refreshments and provided with alternate arrangements requested for.
Ray, however, countered that and said the airline had asked them to go to the food court in the airport after deplaning them and show the boarding passes to get food. “When we reached the food court, they refused us. There was no communication from AirAsia at all. We had to pay. When we were boarding the flight second time, then they gave us one sandwich and a 250 ml water bottle. This is an unacceptable treatment,” he said.
(With agency inputs)