The Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) stayed a vociferous protest in Parliament on Thursday over IndiGo flight carrying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee being made to circle over Kolkata airport for 30 minutes while being short on fuel.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said, “It could have been at its extreme level. Today, when Union Minister Ananth Kumar telephoned me in the morning at about 7:30 a.m., then, I told him that Mamata Banerjee’s aircraft was close to crashing yesterday. I told Ananth Kumar in detail that all other issues will be discussed later, but this issue I will take it up in the parliament today and a proper investigation is of utmost necessity. Today, I am going to attend the opposition parties meeting, where we will also raise this issue, and in the evening, when we will meet the honorable president, there we will report on this incident. We want to have proper security arrangements. All parties should ask for a proper investigation in the matter,”
Bandyopadhyay further said that when Mamata Banerjee’s aircraft reached Kolkata from Patna on the Indigo airlines, it was not granted space for landing, as some other aircrafts where there. After 20 minutes, the pilot sent signal to the traffic control informing about fuel shortage and requested for emergency landing, but was not allowed.
“Ultimately, when the aircraft was allowed to land, then it was visible in and around, that fire brigade, ambulances…all were there, which normally takes place when any apprehension of an accident exists,” Bandyopadhyay added.
Aviation regulator DGCA has ordered an inquiry into as many as three flights, including one carrying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, reporting low fuel at the same time.
The government vehmently denied any design saying just when West Bengal Chief Minister’s Patna-Kolkata Indigo flight reported low on fuel, two other flights of Air India and SpiceJet also called in with the same problem.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered an inquiry to find out how three flights at the same time could fly low on fuel into Kolkata when the norms mandate them to carry enough fuel to enable hovering for 30-40 minutes as well as to carry it to the nearest diversion airport, which in this case was Bhubaneshwar, they said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said in Lok Sabha the DGCA report will be tabled in the House.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said: “It is incorrect to say that the flight was hovering over Kolkata for 30-40 minutes. The flight was hovering for only 13 minutes. The DGCA has ordered an inquiry how all the three flights were flying low fuel.”
He also said that none of these three flights sought priority landing, despite being asked by the ATC.