Traffic rights row grounds flight
Manama, March 30, 2012
Bahrain Air yesterday said it was doing everything it could to help around 140 India-bound passengers stranded in the country for nearly 24 hours.
A dispute between India's Civil Aviation Ministry and the airline grounded flights on its newly-launched service to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.
The passengers, who arrived in Bahrain from Saudi Arabia, were due to take a connecting flight at 9.30pm on Wednesday night. They were later put up in hotels where they checked in at about midnight.
Around 100 passengers were flown to Thiruvananthapuram via Mumbai at around 9.30pm last night. The remaining customers affected are expected to leave on a specially-chartered plane via the same route tonight.
All passengers who do not live in Bahrain are to stay at the Best Western Hotel and Carlton Hotel in Juffair and be provided with free telephone cards to inform friends and relatives while it resolved the situation.
The carrier only launched flights to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala less than two weeks ago.
Bahrain Air chief executive Richard Nuttall said the airline's flights to Thiruvananthapuram were part of a bilateral agreement signed between Bahrain and India.
But he revealed the Indian authorities had still not approved of the continuation of flights to Thiruvananthapuram for the summer season, which started on Mon-day.
"This turn of events was totally unexpected, and the carrier is pursuing all means, including diplomatic, to find a speedy resolution to this matter," said Nuttall.
"Regrettably, this turn of events has left many passengers stranded in Bahrain and Thiruvananthapuram during the holiday season. Bahrain Air has been providing hotel accommodation to non-resident passengers and is working with a number of other carriers to provide alternative solutions to deliver passengers to their destinations with minimum disruption.
"We are hopeful that a solution can be found soon. If not, many more passengers will be affected at a time of year when there are few empty seats."
One of the passengers affected was returning home to attend the funeral of his elder brother, who died of a heart attack. "I am worried as my family may have to go ahead with the service without me."
The airline earlier issued a circular to travel agents informing them about the flight cancellation. "We regret to inform you that due to traffic rights issues with Indian Civil Aviation Affairs our flights for Thiruvananthapuram are cancelled for the time being," it said.
"Bahrain Air management is actively trying to resolve the issue. In the meantime, passengers affected by the cancellation will be re-accommodated on other flights." - TradeArabia News Service