Kettering man’s flight ordeal to feature on TV tonight

Kamal Paul from Kettering who was on board the Comel Air flight which asked passengers to use their own cash to pay for the aircraft's fuel. ENGNNL00120111118171847
Kamal Paul from Kettering who was on board the Comel Air flight which asked passengers to use their own cash to pay for the aircraft's fuel. ENGNNL00120111118171847

A Kettering man’s £20,000 ransom ordeal on a grounded jet will feature on TV tonight.

Kamal Paul sat in the co-pilot’s seat watching as the captain counted out the money he had demanded from passengers on the way back from India.

The plane had stopped in Vienna to refuel in November 2011 when the Comtel Air captain said he would not fly on to Birmingham without the ransom being paid.

Mr Paul, who had been to India for a wedding, said: “It was as if we were being held hostage.

“We didn’t really have a choice and I took control of the tannoy to speak to all of the passengers.

“Some of them were in their 80s and one was blind.

“We didn’t really have a choice but to pay it or we would have been stranded.”

Mr Paul’s ordeal will feature in documentary series ‘World’s Wildest Flights’, which airs tonight (Thursday).

He went to the Granada Studios in Manchester for a day of filming ahead of the episode.

He said: “I’ve been on TV before but this was a different experience.

“We did an afternoon and then an evening of filming and it was good to tell my story.”

Mr Paul said that he never thought such an occasion, with people let into the cockpit, was possible after 9/11.

Passengers opted to pay the ransom, which was about £130 a head.

They were told the Austrian-based airline owed landing charges, fuel bills, hotel bills and air traffic control fees in Europe and in India.

They were marched to airport cash machines and bureau de changes under armed police guard to raise the cash.

Mr Paul was bundled into an armed response vehicle and once he handed over the money the flight took off.

When it arrived in Birmingham armed police stormed the plane and arrested the pilot.

Passengers were greeted by national media after Mr Paul contacted his nephew Kelvin Singh when he was in Vienna to tip them off.

Chartered flight company Comtel Air has since gone bust.

The episode is on at 10pm tonight on channel 5Spike (Freeview 31, Sky 160).

It will also be available on catch-up online for 28 days.