Passengers suffer as Air India cancels 76 flights

New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Over 76 Air India domestic and international flights were cancelled Wednesday following the strike by 15,000 crew members against a gag order and delay in the payment of salaries, leaving thousands of passengers stranded across the country.

‘I had a flight to Hong Kong at 11 p.m. on Tuesday and reached the airport at 8 p.m., unaware of the strike. The ground staff present at the airport were in no mood to support us. There was no information available and we were not told about the cancellation,’ Shradha Gupta, who was travelling with her husband and daughter, said in New Delhi where an estimated 3,000 passengers were left in the lurch.

Gupta and here family were later shifted to a Cathay Pacific flight.

According to a Delhi airport official, 24 flights from Delhi, 37 from Mumbai and seven from Kolkata were cancelled, leaving the passengers in a dilemma.

‘International flights from Delhi to Dubai, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok among others and domestic flights from Delhi to Mumbai, Leh, Ahmedabad, Patna, Srinagar, Hyderabad and few more have been cancelled for today,’ said the official.

The Air India management were struggling to accommodate irate passengers on other airlines.

‘I was aware of the strike but was hoping that my flight would take off since not all operations were cancelled. But when I reached the airport I was told that the flight was cancelled. I am trying to book my ticket on another airline but private carriers have hiked the fare,’ said Sunanda Kumar, who was to travel to Patna from Delhi.

Due to the ongoing strike, which began Tuesday, there was utter chaos at both the domestic and international terminal at the Delhi airport. ‘No information was available about the flight status. We are clueless, the airlines are not even allowing us to enter the airport. The airline should end the strike as soon as possible as it is causing inconvenience,’ said Rupa Singh, an air traveller.

Meanwhile, the government has allowed civil servants to use private carriers.

‘In view of the flight disruptions caused by a strike by a section of Air India employees, entitled government servants have been permitted to fly on another carrier,’ a government spokesperson said.

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