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Wed. Aug 10th, 2022
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MUMBAI: Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways offloaded passengers or cancelled the bookings of scores, largely students, who were to fly to the US from cities such as Mumbai and Bengaluru on Thursday. The students alleged that the airline refused accommodation on alternate flights. With semesters slated to begin soon, students have been left with no option but to spend over Rs 2 lakh for a last-minute, one-way ticket on other carriers.
“Etihad customer care official said I’ll have to wait for 20 days to be rebooked,” said a student, requesting anonymity. The sudden cancellations have sparked panic among parents and students booked to fly to the US on Etihad in the coming days. On Thursday, the cheapest one-way ticket to the US for travel this week from Mumbai began at Rs 1.4 lakh, but was offered on flights over 27 hours’ long. Most tickets are priced over Rs 2 lakh. Passengers booked to fly to New York, Washington and Chicago were offloaded.
“I was on my way to the airport when I received a mail from Etihad stating they have cancelled my booking. I had an onward ticket to New York,” said another student. “I had booked the flight in June and paid Rs 94,000 for a one-way trip. Today I booked an Air India ticket which cost Rs 2.2 lakh. This was the cheapest one,” he said, adding that Etihad said it had refunded his money.
An Etihad spokesperson said: “As a result of operational payload restrictions, Etihad has been forced to reduce the number of flyers on flight from Abu Dhabi to New York on August 4”. A flight operating a longer route which demands a higher fuel uptake or a flight taking off on a hot day that affects engine performance, would come under ‘payload restrictions’. It’s a cut imposed on the volume of passengers (or cargo), in order to reduce the weight of the aircraft and compensate for increased fuel uptake, and decreased engine performance. On Thursday, Etihad operated its Abu Dhabi-New York flight tracking the usual route, flying the same aircraft type with the same flying time. The ground temperature at Abu Dhabi wasn’t higher than normal.

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