Passengers, including three Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament, were left stranded at Rajkot airport on Sunday night after an Air India (AI) flight to Delhi was grounded when the pilot refused to fly, citing the completion of his duty hours. Approximately 100 passengers, including Rajkot, Jamnagar and a newly elected Rajya Sabha MP, had boarded the flight, expecting a smooth journey to the capital.
The incident occurred late in the evening when passengers boarded the Air India plane at around 8:30 PM. However, the pilot informed the passengers that he could not continue the flight due to reaching the Flight Duty Time Limit (FDTL) regulations, which are strictly enforced for flight safety reasons. Despite the passengers’ efforts to resolve the situation, the flight remained grounded for two hours, and eventually, it was canceled. Air India later expressed “regret” in a statement, emphasizing that FDTL regulations were non-negotiable.
One of the MP stated, “We remained on board the plane for two hours, waiting for it to take off. We even talked to officers in Delhi and complained about the situation, but to no avail as the pilot said he was too tired to fly any further. Eventually, we alighted from the plane around 10.30 PM.”
Air India responded by making alternate arrangements for the stranded passengers, offering taxis to Ahmedabad for connecting flights, full refunds for cancelled tickets, and accommodation for those willing to fly on rescheduled flights the following day. Among the passengers, some had international flights to catch from other locations, adding to the complexity of the situation.
The flight, originally scheduled for 7:30 PM, had already arrived in Rajkot an hour late, causing the subsequent delay and disruptions. Another MP cancelled his Delhi visit stated, “I have been flying to Delhi from Rajkot for the past 10 years. However, I have never had to deal with such a situation.”