Last week, 180 passengers waited for more than six hours at Mumbai airport before they were told that their Air India flight to Chennai had been cancelled as its air-conditioning unit was not working.
Across India, in February, technical glitches — such as engine failure and non-functional air-conditioners — were responsible for 27.5 per cent of the cancelled domestic flights.
Cancellations because of technical glitches have increased three-fold in a month (in January, it was 8.5 per cent), shows data released by the ministry of civil aviation.
Such last-minute cancellations force many passengers to buy tickets from another airline, usually at much higher prices.
“If 27 per cent flights are cancelled because of technical problems, it is clear that airlines are cutting costs on preventive maintenance and the safety regulator has failed to take action,” said air safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan.
“The regulator should probe these incidents,” said Sudhakar Reddy national president, Air Passenger Association of India (APAI).
The passenger body plans to take up the issue with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Despite repeated attempts, DGCA chief Nasim Zaidi was not available for comment.
The ministry data shows that commercial considerations such as clubbing of flights because of low occupancy amounted for 55 per cent of the cancellations in February as compared to 24.6 per cent in January. Bad weather led to 17.5 per cent of the total cancellations in February as compared to 66.9 per cent in January.
The airlines were unavailable for comment.