(MENAFN - Arab News) Almost a thousand Air India passengers were stranded in Riyadh and the Indian city of Mumbai after no flights took off from either city yesterday. Air India Flight 922, which was scheduled to leave Riyadh for Calicut at 6 a.m. on Sunday, was delayed by 18 hours, leaving hundreds of passengers including women and children languishing in a local city hotel here.
"The Riyadh-bound flight AI921, which was scheduled to take off from Mumbai for Riyadh at 2.50 a.m. on Sunday, was delayed by about 20 hours, leaving more than 320 passengers stranded at Mumbai airport," said a passenger while speaking to Arab News via phone from Mumbai.
Air India said the disruption in flights was caused by the nonavailability of aircraft. Mohanlal Patel, AI's customer relations manager in Riyadh, however, assured travelers that "the airline is making all necessary arrangements to rectify the ongoing situation."
Patel said the passengers stranded in Riyadh have been provided hotel accommodation and food. However, this claim was disputed by several passengers, saying that they have been forced to stay in a big hall of Al Safir Hotel in Riyadh. According to passengers, about 600 travelers are stranded in Riyadh alone. Some families including women and children have complained about poor lodging facilities in Riyadh. They said that even the families were not provided rooms in the hotel.
The situation was worse at Mumbai airport, where airport security were called in to control the anger of passengers. "A 10th standard student bound for Riyadh was ill, but the AI staffers did not bother to call doctors", said another caller from Mumbai. Moreover, the rescheduled flights announced by AI in Riyadh and Mumbai were little consolation to frustrated passengers, who spent the whole day and in some cases even 48 hours, waiting for flights in the two cities.