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Mumbai customs delays Air India flight on suspicion of gold smuggling

Mumbai customs delays Air India flight on suspicion of gold smuggling

MUMBAI: The Mumbai customs officials deferred Air India flight and delayed it for 45 minutes, on suspicion that it was carrying smuggled gold.

An Air India flight was delayed by 45 minutes after Mumbai Customs officials delayed its take-off procedure on suspicion that it was carrying smuggled gold. Eventually, it turned out to be a misunderstanding, since officials had already managed to seize gold worth crores of rupees from it earlier.

AIU officials recovered 5 kg of gold, worth R1.21 crore, from the overhead baggage compartment of the Goa-bound Air India flight

The incident occurred with Air India flight AI-984 (Dubai-Mumbai-Goa), which arrived at Terminal 2 at around 4.33 am (scheduled arrival time was 4.05 am) yesterday. It then made its way to the apron area, where stopover flights wait before leaving for their destinations.

The flight left from the apron at 5.50 am, half an hour after its scheduled departure time. As the push back vehicle carted it onto the taxiway (the path joining the apron to the runway), officials from the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) recalled it and made it return to the apron, acting on a tip-off that the flight was carrying smuggled gold.

However, the recall turned out to be a goof-up. Gold had, indeed, been on the flight, but it was already removed from the aircraft while it was waiting in the apron.

AIU officials had found gold bars weighing 5 kg worth Rs 1.21 crore in the overhead luggage compartment. According to an airport official who refused to be identified, “The gold bars had already been taken out from the flight, but due to lack of coordination between the Customs and the airline, the flight was called back to the apron.”

This official further added that when the aircraft was recalled, its doors remained shut and Customs didn’t check the flight. Regulations require permissions to be taken to inspect an aircraft that has already left the apron area. The flight was finally able to take off for Goa at 6.35 am.