About 300 passengers of the Mumbai-London Air India flight AI 131, which departed from Mumbai on Tuesday 7th May, were stranded at Vienna for nearly 33 hours after the flight was diverted owing to technical reasons.
According to one of the AI spokespersons, who wishes to stay annonymous, the captain had to make an emergency landing due to a “suspected oil leakage” for the safety of the passengers. The engineers tried to fix the issue for hours but failed and realised that they had to source a spare part from Delhi.
“We don't have an engineering base in Vienna and we requested the Austrian Airways to lend us their spare part but they couldn't loan it to us incase they needed one,” said the AI spokesperson.
Therefore, the passengers were shifted to a nearby transit hotel on Tuesday. However, passengers said that they said they didn’t have access to their luggage and complained about not being provided with enough information and words of assurance with regards to the delay.
“We were on the flight for over four hours while they were trying to fix the problem but during that time, none of the air hostesses came to ask us if we needed anything. More importantly after being informed of the delay, at the airport it was the local airport staff that helped some of us in procuring our luggage while most couldn't access it,” said Kanta Manuramji.
Furthermore, passengers complained about being stuck at the airport for the whole day and being made to wait at the airport for several hours before being allotted hotels. According to Manuramji, those who were able to access their luggage had to get their currencies exchanged in order to use the airport trolleys and were given no information about the delay and the time for which they would have to wait. However, the AI official has refuted such claims calling them “false” and stating that “enough information was provided to all passengers.”
“Vienna airport does not have enough space in the transit area to accommodate so many passengers. We managed to get special permission from the Immigration authorities and the border police to escort and accommodate all these passengers in the nearby transit hotel where they rested till the next day,” he concluded.