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Two CPI-M MPs delay New Delhi- Thiruvananthapuram flight

December 06, 2008 12:18 IST
Last Updated: December 06, 2008 14:02 IST

Two CPI(M) MPs from Kerala [Images] delayed an Air India flight to Thiruvananthapuram by almost four hours when they refused to deboard the aircraft which developed a technical problem, Air India sources said on Saturday.

The Delhi-Kochi-Thiruavananthapuram flight was scheduled to depart from Indira Gandhi [Images] airport at 1730 hours yesterday but was rescheduled to 1830 hours when the problem with its engine was found, Air India officials said.

As the technical problem would have taken sometime to be corrected, the officials said the airlines arranged for an alternate aircraft and brought the plane with the technical snag from the remote bay to the parking bay.

Passengers, numbering 144, and baggage were then transfered to new aircraft but the MPS � Varkala Radhakrishnan and K S Manoj -- refused to deboard.

The MPs spoke to the office of Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and top Air India officials but decided to sit on a dharna till the airlines apologies for the inconvenience, the airlines sources said.

However, as the MPs continued with their protest, the airlines officials contacted higher authorities in the ministry and with their concurrence decided to fly to its destination without the MPs.

"Because of the undue delay and their refusal to deboard the plane, the flight took off at 2215 hours without them," sources said.

What the MP says:

Defending the protest staged at the New Delhi [Images] airport, K S Manoj said it was a reaction against the "callous" attitude of the airline and civil aviation authorities against Kerala.

"This is not the first time the New Delhi-Kochi-Thiruvananthapuram-bound flight was getting delayed. Despite it being the longest domestic flight and booking always full, the officials have never bothered to

stick to schedule or put good aircraft for the service," said the CPI(M) MP from Alappuzha, who joined the protest with Varkala Radhakrishnan.

"Our intention was not to cause inconvenience to passengers. Actually, we wanted to bring to focus the hardship being silently suffered for long by Keralites," Manoj said.

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