Monday, March 24, 2008



Hyderabad, March 23: A SpiceJet Airlines flight scrambled its schedules and landed first at the new international airport in Shamshabad on Sunday to set a record. By touching down almost 50 minutes ahead of schedule, the SpiceJet flight pulled a fast one and spoilt the show for Lufthansa, which was all set to become the first airline to land at the new airport.

SpiceJet flight SG 397 from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad was scheduled to land at 12.50 pm, but it touched down at 12.01 pm because "the pilot decided to take off early".

Though the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt arrived at 12.19 pm, six minutes ahead of its scheduled time, history had already been created.

However, in the fervour to welcome the Lufthansa flight, mediapersons and officials did not even notice that the domestic SpiceJet flight had already landed. Neither did the passengers of SpiceJet flight get a ceremonial welcome.

"The SpiceJet flight was to reach Hyderabad at 10.55 pm, but following a request from the airport authorities, we rescheduled the flight so that it would reach the new Hyderabad airport at 12.50 am on Sunday," said the airline’s spokesperson, Mr Ajay Jasra.

"The GMR group, which operates the airport, wanted the Lufthansa flight to land first. But our plane left early and landed first," added Mr Jasra.

Another SpiceJet flight from Mumbai, that was rescheduled to reach Shamshabad by 12.55 am, landed at 12.25 am instead.

Airport officials were puzzled by SpiceJet’s explanation that their pilots had decided to take off early though the management had agreed to fly in late. But it was Lufthansa which got the official welcome. Fire tenders sprayed water on the flight even as it was moving on the runway, which is a custom of sorts in airports.

"The traditional welcome was given to the Lufthansa flight as planned," said the GMR vice-president (corporate communications), Mr Vijay Vancheshwar. He added that many flights had tried to reach the airport before time to create records. "This brought smiles on the faces of passengers," he said.

GMR officials said that SpiceJet flight was given clearance to land as they did not want it to fly around till the new airport became operational.

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