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May 8, 2024

Kerala Airports in Turmoil: Air India Express Faces Backlash Over Last-Minute Cancellations

Kerala airports witnessed scenes of chaos and frustration as irate passengers protested against Air India Express’ last-minute cancellations on Wednesday. The cancellations, affecting mostly travelers bound for Gulf nations, left passengers stranded and facing uncertain futures.

Passengers, many of whom were already at the airport after completing security checks, were informed about the cancellations abruptly, compounding their frustration. While Air India Express offered full refunds or rescheduling to another date, this did little to assuage passengers’ concerns.

For many travelers, the stakes were high. Some faced the risk of losing their jobs if they failed to reach their workplaces on time, while others’ visas were on the verge of expiration. A woman traveling from Kannur to Sharjah with her family expressed her predicament, stating that the offered rescheduled flight for the next day was of no use as she needed to be at work by May 9.

Similar sentiments were echoed by numerous passengers who urgently needed to reach their workplaces in the Gulf nations. The lack of timely communication and assistance aggravated their plight, with some passengers stranded at the airport without any accommodation or support from the airline.

The frustration wasn’t confined to one airport; similar scenes unfolded at Kochi, Kozhikode, and Thiruvananthapuram airports, reflecting the widespread impact of the cancellations.

Sources revealed that Air India Express had canceled “scores of flights” due to a shortage of cabin crew members, with some crew reportedly calling in sick as a form of protest against alleged mismanagement within the airline, particularly concerning the merger with AIX Connect (formerly AirAsia India).

The discontent among cabin crew members had been brewing for some time, exacerbated by the merger process. Several crew members began reporting sick from Monday evening onwards, leading to flight delays and cancellations across various airports in Kerala.

In response to the situation, Air India Express issued a statement apologizing for the disruptions and emphasized its efforts to address the issue promptly. The airline assured passengers that it was engaging with the crew to understand the reasons behind the cancellations and minimize inconvenience.

However, the incident highlighted broader issues within the airline, raising concerns about the reliability of Air India Express services, particularly for passengers traveling to and from Kerala’s airports, which serve as crucial hubs for Gulf-bound travelers.

As the airline works to resolve the immediate crisis, restoring passenger trust and ensuring smoother operations remain critical challenges for Air India Express in the days ahead.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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