February 27 2020
Fares fly high as planes grounded
14 March 2019

About 500 flights have been cancelled, summer fares may increase by 20-50%

The grounding of more than 70 aircraft by Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Go Air and IndiGo due to various reasons has created a massive demand-supply gap, resulting in an increase in airfares besides causing inconvenience to passengers. Considering that one plane flies seven sectors a day, about 500 flights have been cancelled across India and abroad.

If this situation continues till the peak summer season, airfares will go up by up to 50% across sectors, according to travel agents and analysts.

While more than 50 planes of Jet Airways had been grounded owing to financial crisis, 12 planes of SpiceJet — all Boeing 737 Max 8 — have been grounded as a safety precaution following the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on Sunday. Over four planes of GoAir have been grounded on account of maintenance at Kannur and a few planes of IndiGo have been grounded due to maintenance issues and a shortage of pilots.

Thirty-four international flights, flying into Mumbai and 12 Delhi-bound flights were cancelled as a result of India grounding the Boeing 737-Max aircraft (all belonging to SpiceJet) on Wednesday. According to members of the travel trade, grounding of additional planes would impact fares that were already high this season. Both international and domestic flights from Mumbai and Delhi had seen an average fare hike of 40-50%.

Following the ban on Boeing 737 Max 8 in Indian airspace, international inbound flights have been affected. Grounding of additional planes further impacted fares which were already high this season.

“Both, domestic and international fares for flights to and from Mumbai and Delhi have seen an average increase of 40-50% and we expect fares to rise further due to shortage of planes,” Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder, ixigo said. Sources said Indigo had cancelled 49 flights a day till March 31.


Fares fly high as planes grounded

“SpiceJet is rationalising and optimising the use of its Boeing 737 NG and Bombardier Q400 aircraft to address the current situation and minimise inconvenience to its passengers. We are evaluating options for augmenting capacity in the coming days through a mix of additional flights and aircraft inductions. We are sure our operations will be normal very soon,” a spokesperson said.

Redeploying fleet

“It is too early to know the impact as airlines are working on redeploying their fleet. We feel that there will be rise in airfare by at least 20% on the popular routes,” said John Nair, head, business travel, Cox & Kings.

Subhash Goyal, chairman, Stic Travel Group, said, “Fares are bound to go up as supply has been reduced while there is no drop in demand. Return fare to Kathmandu [from Delhi] which used to be ₹14,000, has gone up to ₹26,000. All the sectors are facing the head of the cancellations. Fares will go up by over 25% in the summer season if the situation continues.”

“The DGCA must cap the fares to protect the interest of flyers. I have been demanding this for long,” Mr. Goyal said.

Kalpana Rodriques, regional sales manager, Akbar Travels Online ,said, “passengers and travel agents are facing maximum trouble as a result of this sudden cancellations. If the situation does not change, fares will go up by 50% in summer.”

There are complaints of airlines not informing passengers about cancelled flights, causing hardship.

Aviation analyst Ameya Joshi said that these were critical times for any airline and broadly carriers world over have a contingency plan, always.

“It only gets triggered in situations like these where the airline can cancel, combine, terminate, re-route or re-time the flight to ensure that it operates as many flights as it can.

“While schedule integrity might go for a toss, passengers may still reach their destination a little early or a little late rather than not reaching or being forced to buy a last-minute expensive ticket on another airline for lack of options,” he said.

On Indigo, Mr. Joshi pointed out that its aircraft were on ground only for scheduled maintenance. “About four aircraft would be down and it is for maintenance and not the pilot issue. The pilot shortage has been dealt with by targeting flights which were low on profitability but had a high impact on pilots. These are mostly red-eye flights,” Mr. Joshi said.



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