Sources alleged that the airline was forcing passengers to either buy last minute fares or it was offering them alternate flights with one-stop connectivity with a long transit time.
The spate of flight cancellations, which began on Saturday last week, continues unabated at IndiGo. Tuesday was the fourth consecutive day when the low-cost airline, which operates the largest network of flights in the country, cancelled 30 flights from major airports, including Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, thus inconveniencing a large number of passengers. Sources alleged that the airline was forcing passengers to either buy last minute fares or it was offering them alternate flights with one-stop connectivity with a long transit time.
The airline cancelled 40 flights on Saturday, 35 on Sunday and 32 on Monday.
Surprisingly, so far there has been no indication of any investigation by the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, into large number of flight cancellations by IndiGo.
While the airline maintains that the cancellations are due to its adjusting flight schedules after the hailstorm that hit parts of north India on Friday last week leading to diversion of several flights, industry sources said the carrier is facing shortage of crew as it has expanded rapidly. According to DGCA regulations, a pilot cannot fly more than 1,000 hours a year.
On Tuesday, the cancelled 30 flights were from major airports including Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. IndiGo operates nearly 1,400 daily flights across the country and enjoys 43% domestic market share.
An IndiGo spokesperson said the airline is adjusting its flight schedule leading to cancellations of 30 flights daily. “This is in order to stabilise the network and operations impacted due to various ongoing Notam and predicted bad weather in the coming days,” the spokesperson said. “These adjustments amount to 1-2% of the originally planned number of flights,” the spokesperson added.
IndiGo has been adding capacity at over 30% y-o-y during FY19, nearly double from its competitors. It added 55 aircraft during 2018 calendar year out 120 planes delivered in India. According to SpiceJet (another low-cost airline) chairman and managing director, Ajay Singh, there is a scarcity of experienced pilots in India. “That (shortage of commanders) is the biggest problem. Though it hasn’t led to cancellation of any flight at SpiceJet till now. We need to have more experienced pilots,” he added.