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India
13 Dec 2017

Arundhati Bhattacharya sleeps on Baku Airport floor amid 19-hour delay

Arundhati Bhattacharya stuck in Baku for 19 hours

Former SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya was one of the dozens of Indians who reached Mumbai from London after a delay of about 24 hours.

In the meantime, their British Airways flight was diverted to Baku, Azerbaijan, due to technical issues.

Bhattacharya was photographed sleeping on the airport floor at Baku as she waited for the flight back to India.

Here's what happened.

In context

Arundhati Bhattacharya stuck in Baku for 19 hours
Why was the flight delayed in the first place?

Delay

Why was the flight delayed in the first place?

Bhattacharya was supposed to fly from London to Mumbai on flight BA198. But the initial departure time of 1:15pm (Monday) was delayed to 5pm due to heavy snowfall in London.

After about four hours of flying, "all the lights and screens went off" and the seat control stopped working even as crew announced an emergency landing at Baku, Mukesh Talreja, a passenger, told TOI.

Problems

Passengers complained they weren't treated well

Passengers reported facing many problems at Baku. They didn't have access to their baggage, Talreja said.

They were allowed to stay in the business class lounge for only two hours.

They weren't allowed to leave the airport either.

They had to wait even after the damage was repaired as the crew had completed 12 hours on duty.

For breakfast, they got just omelettes.

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British Airways' statement on the issue

Attributing the diversion to a "technical issue", BA said, "We fully appreciate how frustrating this experience has been, and have apologized to our customers for the delay. We provided refreshments, and did our best to make sure our customers were comfortable overnight during the delay."

Profile

Arundhati Bhattacharya's four-year tenure left a mark on SBI's performance

Bhattacharya, SBI's first female chairman, retired from her position in October 2017 after four years of service.

Her term was marked by willful loan defaults by errant business tycoons including Vijay Mallya, SBI's merger with five associate banks (which made it one of the world's 50 largest banks), and doubling of SBI's bad loans to 6% from 2.9%.

She was replaced by Rajnish Kumar.

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