NEW DELHI: A SpiceJet aircraft flying 31 members of Indian boxing contingent — including Mary Kom — to Dubai on Saturday morning had to land at the destination after declaring a fuel emergency.
The reason: the airline says it had taken special permission to operate this flight but an alleged delay in finding this authorisation by Dubai airport authorities forced the aircraft hover for about an hour.
Finally, the pilot of SG 142 had to declare a fuel emergency and then the Boeing 737 was finally allowed to land in Dubai.
The aircraft (VT-SGX) with 31 passengers and six crew members took off from Delhi at 2.19 am Saturday. It initially did not get clearance to land in Dubai and was asked to hover.
“When the pilots of this flight requested for diversion to Ras Al Khaimah, they were informed that their aircraft is not permitted to land at any airport in UAE. Clearance to land was given when the ATC was informed about the fuel condition on board. Aircraft declared fuel emergency and landed safely with two tonnes of fuel remaining on arrival,” said senior Indian aviation officials probing this case.
A senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation official said, “We will conduct an inquiry and based on the outcome, take appropriate action.”
A SpiceJet spokesman said the aircraft carrying Indian boxing contingent on Saturday morning “reached Dubai safely and all passengers have cleared the immigration. The flight and passengers carried proper documentation. The flight was not filed/categorised as a cargo flight. It was a regular passenger flight under the air bubble agreement and the same aircraft is bringing 140 passengers to India from Dubai on its return leg.”
The aircraft was to fly back to India at 6.30 am (local time Dubai) Saturday as a quick turnaround flight. Since it took longer to reach Dubai, the airline says the crew exhausted their maximum flight time for the day. “Due to this, the aircraft will now operate to India at 7.30 am on Sunday,” said the spokesman.
The confusion perhaps arose as UAE has from April 25 indefinitely barred travellers from India, with a few exceptions like UAE nationals, diplomatic/official passport holders or those holding an official delegation letter, due the unfolding Covid catastrophe in India.
Then from earlier this month UAE only a maximum of eight passengers can now fly there on business jets till further orders. The business jet rule is a general order and not restricted to travellers from India.
The Indian boxing contingent was recently allowed by the UAE government to participate in the 2021 ASBC Asian Boxing Championship scheduled to be held in Dubai from May 24 to June 1. This event is the final phase of training and preparation for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics that is scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021.