Budget carrier IndiGo today cancelled 84 flights as it grounded more of its Airbus A320 planes over issues relating to availability of engines. The InterGlobe Aviation-run IndiGo, which had grounded nine A320 neo (new engine option) planes due to issues regarding its Pratt & Whitney engines in June quarter, has grounded four more aircraft taking the total number of AOG (aircraft on ground) to 13, aviation sources told PTI. Of these, 11 aircraft (VT-IFC, VT-IXN, VT-ITB, VT-ITS, VT-ITF, VT-ITM, VT-ITP, VT-ITJ, VT-IFM, VT-ITO and VT-ITG) are grounded in Delhi, while one plane each has been grounded at Hyderabad and Chennai, the sources said, adding 84 flights were cancelled today. IndiGo, which is the country’s leading air carrier, however, released two statements to explain its position. It said there is no “new development” pertaining to the grounding of neos.
In the first statement, IndiGo said that its eight neos are grounded and it had already factored in the impact of the grounding of these planes in its July-September schedule. “This is to clarify that our 8 neos are grounded. Our schedule was planned in the month of June itself pertaining to non-availability of these aircraft for the month of July, August and September. The affected passengers have already been accommodated with suitable options,” it said. In the second statement, the airline said four of its Airbus 320(current engine option-ceo) aircraft are “grounded” due to the engines being stuck at the Customs. “We are awaiting certain clarifications post the implementation of GST, which has led to unplanned flight cancellations. All passengers have been informed of the changes and accommodated accordingly. There is no new development pertaining to the grounding of neos.
As mentioned in our June earning’s call, there were instances where 9 neos were grounded due to inadequate spare engines. At present, 8 neos are grounded because of the unavailability of spare engines. These have already been factored in our revised schedule which was finalized in June and there are no additional flight cancellations on account of these neos,” it said. According to the sources, a total of 667 flights were cancelled by IndiGo between June 21 and July 3 this year, with 61 flights cancelled on June 27 alone, due to the grounding of its planes. IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh had during the post-Q1 earnings call on July 31 said that “regrettably, there have been days when we have had to ground as many as nine A320 neos due to lack of spare engines. While we do receive certain compensation from Pratt and Whitney for these groundings, the operational disruptions are quite challenging and we are not happy with that situation.” A text message sent to the Director General of Civil Aviation, B S Bhullar, seeking response to a query whether the DGCA was considering grounding of the entire Airbus A320 neo fleet with P & W engines, did not yield any response.
The aviation regulator had earlier this month expressed its concern over grounding of the A320 PW neo engine-powered aircraft, which are currently being flown by IndiGo and GoAir, and the inconvenience to the passengers after it reviewed the progress made by the US engine maker in fixing the glitches. The meeting was attended by representatives from P & W, European aircraft major Airbus as well as from IndiGo and GoAir. In March, the DGCA had asked the engine maker to fix the issues related to its engines powering A320 neo planes of the two budget airlines.