Terminal 3 for international departures of the Cochin international airport wears a deserted look on May 8 morning after passengers leave following cancellation of two Air India Express flights to West Asia destinations.

Terminal 3 for international departures of the Cochin international airport wears a deserted look on May 8 morning after passengers leave following cancellation of two Air India Express flights to West Asia destinations.
| Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

In what could be major difficulty for passengers, a section of senior crew members in the Air India Express reported sick en masse on May 7 night, forcing the airline to cancel or delay more than 78 international and domestic flights in the country. Kerala is perhaps the State that is hit hardest by the disruption of services as the airline is the largest player in the State in the international sector.

Thousands of passengers were stranded in the four international airports in Kerala after the flights were cancelled or delayed.

At the Thiruvananthapuram international airport, four flights, including domestic and international were cancelled until 10 a.m. on May 8. The flights cancelled include Thiruvananthapuram-Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram-Sharjah, Thiruvananthapuram-Abu Dhabi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Dubai. 

The Ministry of Civil Aviation is monitoring the situation after the airline grounded flights following a sudden shortage of crew members.

An official statement issued by the airline said a section of cabin crew has reported sick at the last minute, starting May 7 night, resulting in flight delays and cancellations. “While we are engaging with the crew to understand the reasons behind these occurrences, our teams are actively addressing this issue to minimise any inconvenience caused to our guests as a result,” it said.

While apologising to passengers for the disruptions, the airline said passengers impacted by cancellations will be offered a full refund or complimentary rescheduling to another date.

Passengers flying with the airline on May 8 have been requested to check if their flight is affected before heading to the airport, the statement added.

Passengers protest

Over 400 passengers at the Kannur airport were left stranded due to the flight disruptions. The sudden cancellations sparked protests by passengers in Kannur.

Flights from Kannur to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Muscat were among those cancelled.

Many passengers who arrived at the Kannur airport early in the morning found themselves without explanation from authorities, exacerbating concerns, particularly for those with expiring work visas.

(with inputs from Kannur bureau)

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