Four bomb threat calls received in quick succession at Delhi and Bengaluru airports forced the aviation authorities to ground three flights, including two international, sending a panic wave among fliers.
While Air India and Jet Airways flights to Kathmandu were grounded at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, no-frills airline AirAsia’s Goa flight from Bengaluru also failed to take off on scheduled time due to similar reasons.
The Kathmandu-bound flights of Air India and Jet Airways, which were scheduled to take off at 1.15 pm and 1.25 pm, were halted and sent to the isolation bay just before they were readying for departure after the airport police received a bomb threat call.
“Around 1 pm, the airport police received an anonymous call saying that there were bombs inside two laptop bags, kept in the planes of Air India and Jet Airways,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (IGIA) D K Gupta said.
Immediately, the authorities decided to ground both the flights, which were to carry 121 and 122 passengers respectively and take the two aircraft to the isolation bay for an extensive search of the baggage, cargo and aircraft, sources said.
“Jet Airways flight 9W 260, scheduled to depart from Delhi for Kathmandu at 1.25 pm, has been delayed due to a security alert. All 122 guests and 7 crew have been taken to the departures waiting area at the airport,” Jet Airways said in a statement.
The Air India flight finally took off at 7.50 pm after receiving clearance from the security agencies.
‘#AI215 DEL-KTM, which was delayed due to bomb threat, took off at 1950 hrs with a change in aircraft after security clearances,’ Air India tweeted.
Before this, the flight was delayed for the second time just when security agencies were carrying out the search.
‘#AI 215 DEL-KTM has been further delayed due to a fresh threat call & will take off only after security clearances,’ the airline had tweeted.
‘Earlier on Wednesday, Flight AI 215 was evacuated and all 121 passengers were taken to the terminal as aircraft was at the bay area for security check up,’ Air India spokesperson G P Rao said in a statement later.
At the same time, budget carrier AirAsia India’s flight to Goa from Bengaluru, which was to fly 141 passengers and four infants, was also delayed following a similar bomb scare on its incoming flight from Jaipur.
According to AirAsia India, its incoming Flight I5-1721 to Jaipur from Bengaluru received a specific bomb threat on arrival at Bengaluru after all 164 passengers on board with 1 infant deplaned.
The flight was scheduled to depart for Goa at 12.30 pm.
“In-flight cabin crew spotted the bomb threat in the aircraft after landing,” it said, adding the aircraft was taken to isolation bay, checked thoroughly by Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad.
“But nothing was found. Aircraft was then cleared and released for normal operations. The aircraft was airborne at 4.32 pm after all security clearance with 141 passengers and four infants,” AirAsia India said in a statement.
‘Safety and security of our guests, employees and overall operations are paramount in AirAsia India and at no stage would compromise in its core commitment of service ensuring safety and security,’ airline’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mittu Chandilya said in the statement.