Belt glitch strands hundreds at Riyadh airport
Hundreds of outbound Saudia passengers were left stranded at King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) for several hours on Thursday because of a faulty conveyor belt.
Several passengers, who called Arab News from KKIA, claimed one of the belts at the departure terminal had broken down, causing flight delays and discomfort.
The malfunction, which affected only Saudia international flights, created a chaotic scene at the check-in counters.
More than 1,000 pieces of luggage were seen piled up all across the departure lounge and the airport lobby throughout Thursday morning.
Luggage handling was badly affected because of the problem with the conveyor belt.
“But what angered the passengers more was the attitude of ground staff; the passengers were not informed about the status of the flights,” Kamran Khan told Arab News via phone from the airport.
At least six Saudia flights out of about 27 flights operated by Saudi Arabian Airlines on Thursdays between 9 a.m. to 12 noon were badly affected and delayed anywhere between one and five hours.
They were SV117, bound for London, SV263, bound for Istanbul, SV558, bound for Dubai, SV329, bound for Alexandria, and SV760, bound for Delhi.
The duty manager at KKIA refused to share information when asked about the cause of delays and what had really happened.
Arab News contacted Abdullah Al-Azhar, a Saudia spokesman, who promised to call back, but did not return the call.
Mojib Siddiqui, a Delhi-bound passenger, said he was on board the flight SV760 for about five hours before it flew for Delhi.
“I will miss my connecting train and will now be forced to spend the whole night in Delhi,” said Siddiqui.
“The Saudi flight bound for London SV117 also took off two hours late,” said another passenger traveling to London.
SV760, scheduled to fly out at 10 a.m., left for New Delhi at 2:44 p.m. on Thursday, while SV726, bound for Islamabad, was delayed for more than two hours. Airport officials acknowledged the problem, but said it was “minor.” “The delivery of luggage from security checkpoints to airplanes was halted for some time,” he said.
Authorities have yet to determine the exact number of flights delayed.