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Passengers don't allow AI pilot to leave flight, hijack alert triggered

There was high drama at the Thiruvananthapuram airportin Kerala today after the pilot of an Air India flight triggered the hijack alarm after she was not allowed to disembark from the plane by irate passengers on board the aircraft.

According to CNN IBN, the Air India Express flight from Abu Dhabi to Kochi had to be diverted to Thiruvanathapuram due to bad weather.

However, once they landed the pilot of the aircraft allegedly told the passengers that she could not fly the aircraft since she had exhausted her flying hours for the day as per government rules.

Representational image. AFP

The passengers however allegedly refused to let the pilot alight from the aircraft and said she would not be allowed to leave until another pilot arrived. After negotiations with the passengers failed, the pilot reportedly sent an emergency message to the airline management and airport authorities saying that a hijack-like situation prevailed on board.

A passenger who was on board the aircraft refuted allegations that they had threatened the pilot.

" All the passengers were at the door of the plane asking why she would not fly any more. There was no threatening and they just said she would not be allowed to leave the aircraft," Jais Jospeh, a passenger on board the flight, told CNN IBN.

He said the flight had taken off 3 hours behind schedule and landed at Thiruvananthapuram at 6:30 am after it was unable to land at Kochi due to bad weather. The passengers were reportedly told that they would be taken to their destination once the aircraft was refueled and the weather conditions improved.

"She said that her flying hours were over due to which she could not fly any more...Passengers said they would let her go only when the next captain came,"  he said.

He alleged that the security forces at the airport had acted in a high handed manner and had attempted to arrest them but the passengers had unitedly opposed them.

"They are trying to arrest some of us making it out to be a case of hijack.....It is a made up story and the captain filed a complaint saying that it had been hijacked," Joseph said.

However, due to the alarm security personnel at the airport were placed on high alert and it was only much later that they realised there had been no hijack. The passengers refused to alight the aircraft or take up the airline's alternate offers to road transport to Kochi or to take another flight.

According to airport officials, some of the aircraft's passengers also alighted the aircraft and stood around it while waiting for the flight to take off.

Passengers also said that a new crew later arrived on board around midday.