Friday, February 24, 2012

5-hr runway closure upsets fliers, airlines say passengers informed

Pushpa Iyer, 43, a managing director with a Navi Mumbai-based shipping company, was supposed to attend a meeting in Bangalore on Saturday evening.

The frequent flier had planned to fly out of Mumbai on Saturday afternoon, but when her secretary inquired about flight bookings she found that there were no flights available. The five-hour closure of flight operations (11:30am and 4:30pm) for three consecutive Saturdays has caught several fliers unawares.

Iyer holds a gold class membership card for Kingfisher Airlines and a silver card for Jet Airways. “Yet, I have to move my meeting to Monday,” said Iyer, a resident of Vashi. “Since I work in the service sector, there are spontaneous travel plans that are made to suit the demands of the clients. This cancellation can cause great inconvenience.”

While Iyer has been able to reschedule her trip to Bangalore, the grounding of flight operations on three Saturdays could hit those who need to fly owing to an emergency. “We cannot operate additional flights before or after the closure period because the slots are packed,” said a senior flight operations official with a private airline.

An Air India spokesperson said they had revised timings of a few flights. “Passengers were informed in advance,” he said.

None of the other domestic carriers responded to HT’s query on whether they had made other arrangements for fliers on Saturday. “Some flights were cancelled.

Spicejet advanced the timings of a few flights. But since the notice came well in advance there were no inconvenience caused to passengers,” said Jay Bhatia, chairman, western region, Travel Agents Association of India.

Anup Kanuga, owner of Bathija Travels, said there was no chaos as the cancelled flights were pulled out of the booking system long ago. “People in an emergency situation can go to Pune and take a flight,”said Pradip Lulla, managing director, Cupid Travels.

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