Thursday, November 24, 2011

A lesson for Kingfisher Airlines

Of course you know that Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, among other countries have a very large Indian Diaspora. Our brethren from the Punjab form a large part of this. The Punjabis are wealthy, have deep roots to their homeland and have a huge connect to Amritsar. The Golden Temple, the Holiest of the Holy sites for a Sikh is in Amritsar.

So one Bhunpinder Kandra, clever chap, owner of Comtel Airlines, decided why not provide an air service running from Birmingham in the UK, via Vienna and then nonstop to Amritsar. The stop in Vienna was a technical stop in as much as it was required to refuel the aircraft. Excellent idea I must say. In fact, if my memory serves me right, our own Jet Airways had started an Amritsar London flight which has unfortunately stopped. Mr Kandra was onto a good thing.

Our intrepid Punjabis set about making plans to fly to Amritsar from the British heartland where they lived. For some 500 Pounds Sterling you could have the pleasure of flying to Amritsar and back. In fact the story of Amarjit Duggal, from Great Barr in Birmingham is typical. She flew from Amritsar a week after scattering her mother's ashes. So picture the scene. Lots of British Punjabis flying up and down the Birmingham Amritsar corridor. Lots waiting in Birmingham to fly out and lots in Amritsar happily vacationing, waiting to return home. Things were going swimmingly for everybody.

Last week things came to a grinding halt. The circumstances are hilarious. The consequences frightening and tragic. Here is what happened.

On the return leg, a Comtel flight landed in Vienna to refuel before flying on to Birmingham. Presumably the passengers were tired, though happy, that, in a couple of hours they would be back home. It soon transpired that there was no money to pay for the fuel. So our clever airline rounded up the passengers and told them that unless they contributed a further 20,000 Euros there was no way to get the aircraft refuelled. Some passengers opened their wallets and took out cash. Others were escorted one by one to an ATM in Vienna Airport and made to draw money. Those who refused were simply deplaned and made to fly back to Birmingham on their own steam. Brilliant idea I must say.

This of course led to the necessary outrage, apportioning of blame and all such things. Comtel Airlines is grounded. Our intrepid travellers stuck in Amritsar are on a wing and a prayer [no pun intended] to get back home. The GBP 500 gone waste. The Punjabis still in Birmingham with dud Comtel tickets have to look at other options of getting to and from Amritsar.

Closer home, Kingfisher Airlines are almost belly up. Stories abound of cancelled flights and refusal of our fuel companies to supply more fuel to Kingfisher unless they pay up unpaid dues. Jet Airways has been told to raise more money or else.............. !

In light of all these frightening developments, when flying, carry loads of cash or have absolutely bulletproof Credit/Debit cards. You never know when you will have to refuel a jet.

One thought, I hope the low cost carriers we have, Indigo, Go Air, Spice, Jetlite don’t get an idea from this and suddenly whip around and ask you to pay for fuel.

Whatever next!

Of course every word I have written is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

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