With what was till recently one of India’s largest airlines suspending operations, the government has started moving to ensure passengers are not inconvenienced by high airfares and unavailability of flights. On Thursday, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola held meetings with airport operators and airlines in light of Jet Airways’ collapse to discuss the plans to mitigate the situation.
As many as 440 slots that are vacant at Delhi and Mumbai airports will be reallocated to other airlines on an interim basis through a “rational, fair and equitable” manner, Kharola said. There are 280 vacant slots at Mumbai airport and over 160 at Delhi airport. These two stations are among the busiest in the country.
The slots would be allocated for three months by a committee, comprising officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Airports Authority of India (AAI) and respective airports. Kharola also said around 30 more planes would be inducted by airlines in next 3 months. Besides, a decision on 20-30 leased planes of Jet that have been grounded is likely next week as some airlines have expressed interest in taking them, he added.
With the additions, Kharola said there would be a “healthy growth in capacity”. In the last five months, around 75 planes were out of the domestic sector due to groundings by Jet. During the same period, about 58 aircraft were inducted by various carriers, he noted. SpiceJet on Thursday said it will dry lease six more Boeing 737 planes, and roll out of 24 daily new flights connecting Mumbai and Delhi as it seeks to encash void left by the temporary grounding of Jet Airways. Fares in trunk sectors of the country during April have increased by 19-36 per cent on an average over the same period previous year.
As per official data, a total of 74 planes have been inducted by carriers since October last year. “We wanted to know from Jet Airways on how many passengers have booked tickets and how they plan to refund it. Jet has said that they have to collect information from all over the world and they will be coming to meet us on Monday or Tuesday…,” he said. According to industry sources, Jet owes passengers around Rs 3,500 crore in refunds towards cancellations.
DGCA on Thursday said it will ask the airline for a “concrete and credible” revival plan. A senior official of the DGCA also said the regulator would take action in accordance with due procedure under relevant regulations.