"I tried calling Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant who answered my phone within two rings at 1.13 a.m. He called me back five times, arranged food for all passengers at Indian Kebab Grill, and exactly at 1.27 a.m. told me that the flight was ready to take-off in 30 minutes. We finally reached Goa at around 3.30 a.m.," Bhatikar told IANS.
He also said that the flight, which was initially scheduled to leave at 9.30 p.m. on Thursday, was delayed till 11.30 p.m. Sawant is in New Delhi for two days, where he has a series of meetings scheduled with several Union Ministers and the Vice Chairman of the Niti Aayog.
"When the flight landed at the Mumbai airport, Air India officials said that crew members were not ready for take-off and kept changing the timing," Bhatikar said, which frustrated the passengers, who started shouting slogans in the airport premises.
"The Chief Minister's outreach should be appreciated. He went out of the way, despite being in Delhi, to ensure that passengers to Goa were treated well, eventually," he added.
When contacted, the Chief Minister's Office confirmed the developments.
"The Chief Minister ensured that all passengers who were booked to Goa, were looked after on the request made by Bhatikar," an official of the Chief Minister's Office said.