Published on : Wednesday, May 18, 2016
At Kochi airport, India, about 40-50 SpiceJet passengers, who were on their way to board the flight to Mumbai got into a dubious situation when they saw the improbable sight of their aircraft taxiing towards the runway to take off.
The major security breach on Saturday night, caused by a series of bungles in pouring rain, including a misinformed bus driver, was discovered only after the passengers raised an alarm and sent the airline ground staff and crew into a tizzy.
The air traffic control and airline staff alerted the pilots and Boeing 737 returned to pick up those it had left behind. SpiceJet flight SG 154 from Kochi to Mumbai began after it was delayed by 75 minutes after it returned to the ground and picked up the left passengers.
According to one of the passengers, the airline attributed the delay to air traffic congestion at Mumbai airport. The flight was supposed to land in Mumbai at 8.55pm however, the departure was moved to 8.10pm. When the passengers were being ferried from the terminal building to the aircraft by coach, around 7.50pm, it started raining heavily wherein the bus stopped at a spot on the apron and remained there for close to 30 minutes,
The passengers could see two SpiceJet aircraft parked ahead of them, a Boeing 737 and a smaller Q400 aircraft that was bound for Chennai. But to their shock, the aircraft started moving instead of the bus. After the downpour became a little less, the bus took them to the other SpiceJet flight, where, on showing the boarding passes, they got to know that it was scheduled for Chennai.
By this time, the Boeing 737 bound for Mumbai had begun taxiing and the bewildered and angry passengers started shouting. Meanwhile the SpiceJet ground staffs were alarmed and started making calls even as the Boeing 737 continued to taxi towards the runway.
The aircraft came to a halt after a while and stayed there for 20 minutes before taxiing back.
The commander lost his temper who even refused to operate the flight.
Almost one-fourth of the of the aircraft was empty although the flight was fully booked and it’s strange that the crew did not notice the vacant seats before taking off.
A former ICAO security auditor, P Mohanan said: “In 1985, Air India’s Kanishka bombing took place only because the terrorists had checked-in their bags, but they didn’t board. Since then passenger-baggage reconciliation has been made mandatory. Even if one passenger has not boarded and hisher bag has been checked in, it has to be removed before the plane can depart. This is a major security breach and an inquiry should be conducted.”