Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ex-SBI chief, others stranded at Baku airport for 19 hours

Mumbai: Former State Bank of India chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya was among dozens of Indian passengers trapped in Baku, Azerbaijan, after a British Airways Flight, BA198, from Mumbai to London was diverted when smoke was detected in the first class galley. The passengers were shifted to another flight for London after a 19-hour-long wait at Baku airport.
"The (alternate) plane sent to Baku to fly passengers to London has taken off," said a BA spokesperson at 6.30pm, IST.
For passengers of Monday's BA 198, the ordeal began in the afternoon itself. The flight's scheduled departure time was 1.15 pm. But due to heavy snowfall in London, it was delayed to after 5pm. After flying for a few hours, it was diverted to Baku.
Soon after the diversion on Monday night, BA had said: "We apologize to our customers for the delay to their travels following a suspected technical issue with a flight from Mumbai to London. Engineers in Baku are checking the aircraft..."

The airline said in a statement: "We fully appreciate how frustrating this experience has been, and have apologised to our customers for the very long delay to their flight. We provided refreshments, and did our best to make sure our customers were comfortable overnight during the delay... The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority." BA did not give the number of passengers on this flight.

A stranded passenger, though, said he did not have access to his baggage. "I have three medicines that I need to take for diabetes, blood pressure and thyroid and I could not access these," said Mukesh Talreja, a first-class passenger who spoke to TOI from the Baku airport. He said passengers were given just omelettes for breakfast. They could also not leave the airport as they were denied short-term visas and most officials there did not speak English.
13/12/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India