The disturbing trend of domestic flight cancellations owing to technical snags continues. The data released by the civil aviation ministry revealed 48.2% of the domestic flights were cancelled because of this reason.
According to the data, from accounting for 13.5% flight cancellations in January, snags contributing to last minute aborted journeys more than doubled to 29.3% in March.
The data also showed that the number of domestic fliers getting stranded at airports following last-minute cancellations also increased from 9,093 in February to 12,593 in April. Of these, passengers booked to travel on Air India (AI) were the worst affected as almost 5,700 AI passengers were held up owing to flight cancellations in April, the data added.
Air safety experts said that the data indicated a larger safety concern of callous servicing of aircraft fleet. “Any regulator should raise the red flag if flight cancellations exceed even 20% due to lack of spares. With nearly half (the flights being cancelled), the safety standards in India are indeed shocking,” said captain Mohan Ranganathan, former member of Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC), a government-appointed independent air safety panel set up after the Air India Express crash in Mangalore in 2010.
Other independent air safety experts said airlines should be accountable for this. “It is high time that the aviation safety regulator pulls up airlines on such high rate of snag-induced flight cancellations. Preventive audits should be increased to tackle this unhealthy trend,” said a former air safety official with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), requesting anonymity.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the United Nation (UN)’s aviation watchdog, has classified snag-induced flight disruptions under six categories. It comprises aircraft defects, late release of planes from scheduled maintenance, shortage of spare parts, unexpected breakdown, change in cabin configuration and surprise checks by safety regulators.
Experts added that the safety regulator should also keep is close watch on airlines’ balance sheets as previous audits had found that airlines making heavy losses had failed to maintain a snag-free fleet.
Technical issues paralysing operations --> The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the United Nation (UN)’s aviation watchdog, has classified snag-induced flight disruptions under six categories. They include:
* Aircraft defects
* Late release of planes from scheduled maintenance
* Shortage of spare parts
* Unexpected breakdown
* Change in cabin configuration
* Surprise checks by safety regulators
Passengers left in lurch
No. of fliers held up owing to flight cancellations
No. of domestic flights affected by cancellations