Low-cost carrier SpiceJet on Wednesday cancelled 14 of its flights after aviation safety regulator DGCA banned Boeing 737 MAX planes, following two fatal crashes as of March 2019.
The flights have been cancelled on sectors including Delhi-Ahmedabad, Hyderabad-Mumbai, Mumbai-Kochi, Hyderabad-Bengaluru, Bengaluru-Madurai, Chennai-Guwahati, Chennai-Port Blair, Delhi-Pune, Delhi-Goa among others. This has resulted in an additional burden on India’s air traffic that is already stretched due to capacity constraints faced by two large players IndiGo and Jet Airways.
According to travel experts, the flight cancellations on account of nearly 50 aircraft being on the ground has caused the air fares to spike. Due to the situation, air fares have been at least 15 per cent higher this year compared to last year, and on certain sectors the last minute fares have been high by as much as 60 per cent.
“Consequent to the regulatory directive on the Boeing 737 MAX, SpiceJet has already initiated grounding of its MAX fleet. In order to cause least inconvenience to its passengers and also bring these aircraft to its maintenance base we expect to complete this exercise on or before 4 pm today. SpiceJet has presently announced cancellation of 14 flights for today and will be operating additional flights from tomorrow. Of the 76 planes in our fleet, 64 aircraft are in operations and we are confident of minimizing the inconvenience to our passengers and attain normalcy in our operations. While a majority of passengers affected as a result of these cancellations have been accommodated by SpiceJet on alternate flights, rest have been offered a full-refund,” SpiceJet said in a statement.
A search on Google flights for Delhi-Goa flight for today shows the cheapest nonstop fare to be at Rs 7,157, while the next cheapest nonstop fare was at Rs 23,122. For Thursday, the nonstop single trip fares ranged between Rs 6,951 and Rs 10,132.
“At least 50 planes are out of action or grounded on the domestic front owing to multiple reasons. That is a significant reduction in domestic airline capacity. The additional capacity coming in is not likely to cover this in the short term, while demand is going to be robust over the next few months because of the school holidays season and surging leisure travel. The shortage of planes and high seat occupancies are expected to push airfares north in the short term. The airfares were at least 15 per cent higher this year compared to last year, and owing to the current situation, airfares are expected to rise further this season.” said Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com.