Air France denies ill-treatment of passengers (Lead)

May 12th, 2009 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, May 12 (IANS) Air France Tuesday said a technical snag had caused a long delay in its Paris-Mumbai flight on Sunday and denied accusations of ill-treatment and racial bias levelled by some of the Indian passengers.
The Air France Airbus-A330 flight AF 218 was carrying 169 passengers and 12 crew members.

In a statement, Air France said the AF 218 flight left the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris at 12.45 Sunday afternoon and returned after eight hours.

En route, the pilots noticed some vibrations emanating from the cargo hold which could not be checked during the flight. A thorough check of the aircraft at the airport later reported no abnormalities.

Tuesday morning some of the Indian passengers accused the airline of ill-treatment and racial bias.

Countering this, Air France said that passengers holding a valid transit visa were put up at nearby hotels for the night. The airline said it had mediated the issuance of visas but it proved to be a time-consuming process.

The passengers were in the meantime taken care of by the Air France ground staff who spoke fluent English. It added that they were also served food and water, rejecting the contentions made by some travellers that they remained hungry and thirsty.

The following day (Monday), all the passengers were transferred to another Air France flight AF-218A. It left Paris at 1415 hrs Monday and arrived in Mumbai safely early Tuesday.

Expressing regrets over any inconvenience caused to the passengers due to the incident, Air France said its main concern was to ensure safety of the passengers.

Some of the Indian passengers alleged after arriving here that Indians were treated shabbily as compared to passengers of other nationalities.

A woman claimed that barring Indians, all the other passengers were given good hotel accommodation since their flight was delayed.

The airline allegedly did not give any reason for the delay and dumped all Indians in a small room, she told reporters.

Another passenger accused Air France of not providing Indians with proper food or water during the ordeal.

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