Saudi Passengers face more cancellations
Jet Airways passengers in Saudi Arabia were left stranded in Riyadh and Jeddah on Thursday after the airline cancelled its outgoing flights (again) due to a mass protest staged by the carrier’s pilots.
September 10, 2009 11:55 by K.S. Ramkumar
Confusion continued to prevail among Jet Airways passengers in Riyadh and Jeddah who had their confirmed bookings for Thursday.
While the Indian private international carrier’s flights did not leave on Wednesday from Riyadh or Jeddah, passengers booked on the flights ran to get their bookings endorsed on other international airlines.
“I expected the airline to operate its flight on Thursday, but I learned from my travel agency that there was no hope at least for a day or two so I got the tickets of my family endorsed on another airline,” Abdul Karim, a Yanbu-based technician, told Arab News.
A local official at Jet Airways on Wednesday said the carrier was working to minimize the inconvenience passengers face as a result of the pilots’ protest.
“We endorsed 102 of our passengers on other international airlines,” he said. “Our scheduled flight is coming from Mumbai on Thursday and we hope to operate the 1 a.m. flight from Jeddah on Friday,” he added.
“The airline has re-accommodated 80 percent of its stranded passengers on flights of other airlines, while it has ‘readily’ refunded the airfare of the remaining ones,” he said.
Four hundred thirty two of the airline’s 1,056 pilots did not report for work on Wednesday, and went on a mass sick leave on Tuesday. They are protesting the sacking of two pilots in July for starting a new union. There were reports that three more pilots were sacked on Wednesday.
The airline’s 208 flights, both domestic and international, were canceled on Tuesday, while it called off 224 flights on Wednesday. They included 26 international operations including those from Saudi Arabia.
“We are sorry that some of our passengers have had to face trouble. It has been a surprise spring on us without any early warning,” the airline stated. Aside from the passengers stranded in Riyadh and Jeddah, about 13,000 passengers were left stranded on Tuesday at various airports across India, the worst affected being passengers flying out of Mumbai airport.
Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal has appealed to the pilots to resolve the matter amicably and return to work.