Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Flight Of Fancy: US Flight Makes Shocking U-Turn At Delhi Airport As Two Mystry Men Could Board The Plane!

By Sushil Khurana in New Delhi
Who were they? No one seems to really know. But on flight UA-83 of United Airlines, passengers were curious. The two mysterious men were embarked, at the cost of a 46-minute delay even after the Delhi-Newark flight had begun taxiing, after the plane returned to the boarding area of the international terminal of IGI Airport on the night. 

It was 11.35pm when the passengers of flight UA-83 were all aboard the aircraft, waiting to take off for the American destination. The aircraft had begun taxiing - moments away from the sky. Then came a phone call. The pilots had to abort the take-off. The airline was allegedly called up by an Indian government agency demanding that the aircraft return to the boarding area for these two men. 

“After getting clearances from ATC, customs, etc, the doors of United Airlines flight UA-83 were closed and the staff removed the jetty. As the flight started moving towards the runway, a senior official of the United Airlines got a call to abort the take-off as they had to take two 

passengers. After a few seconds, the pilots made a Uturn and came back to the area where the passengers board flights. This is shocking as no airline is allowed to take passengers the way United Airlines did,” a senior aviation official told INNLIVE. 

The airline has confirmed the incident. 

According to United Airlines, this last-minute chaos held up the flight for 46 minutes. According to an estimate, this 46-minute delay must have burnt extra fuel of around 1.5 to 2 tonnes. 

After returning to the boarding area, the aircraft had to go through a re-run: jetties had to be 

attached and all the clearances had to be taken once again. 

The two mystery men embarked the flight and took their seats, even as questions floated 

through rows of seats about their identity. 

United Airlines has refused to reveal the identity of these two passengers and told INNLIVE that the passengers were handed over to them by Immigration as they were denied entry into India. 

“Flight UA-83 on June 13, 2015 returned to the gate briefly to enable the embarkation of two customers after United was informed by the Indian Immigration authorities that the customers had been denied entry into India and would have to be returned to the US. We did not accommodate any late-arriving customers on the flight. The flight departed at 12.21am, 46 minutes behind schedule,” Kevin Johnston, Head of Press, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India told INNLIVE.

But who were these two men? Were they spooks of some foreign spy agency? Why were they unwanted in India? The questions are unanswered. However, officials of the civil aviation ministry have questioned the argument made by the airline. 

“The aircraft reached IGI Airport around 9.30pm and given A-03 parking bay as per record. If the Immigration had deported some passengers they could have done that much before the scheduled time as they had almost three hours. Also, if the Immigration delayed it then United 

Airlines could have refused to accept the passengers in the same flight as without Immigration departure clearance it is not possible for any flight to start operations,” a senior ministry official told INNLIVE.

According to the ministry, an inquiry has to be ordered to understand why the flight got delayed, and to establish who the men were. 

It was 11.50pm when the pilots sought the start-up clearance once again. However, the take-off was still many minutes away. There were procedures to be followed. While the mystery men and other passengers remained seated inside the aircraft, the clearances from the airport officials followed one by one. It consumed time and possibly tested patience of the passengers.

In the end, the flight did take off. However, there is a discrepancy in the timing of the take-off and other procedures as claimed by the United Airlines and the Airport Operations Control Centre (AOCC). 

While the airline claimed the flight took off at 12.21 am, the AOCC said it took off at 12.12 am. A senior AOCC official confirmed that UA-83 had arrived at 9.30pm at Gate A-03 and was scheduled to take off at 11.35pm. 

But it all went haywire at the last moment. The flight’s start-up clearance was pushed back at 11.50pm and the aircraft finally took off at 12.12am. But, according to the airlines, the flight got delayed by 46 minutes and took off at 12.21am.

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