The domestic airline industry is losing an estimated Rs 4 crore per day due to delays and diversions of flights caused by the blanket of fog engulfing Delhi. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) has pegged the total loss at over $4 million (Rs 18 crore) over the last seven days.
A single flight being diverted costs an airline an average of Rs 4 lakh. Most aircraft have also to hover above the airport for considerable lengths of time, before the decision to divert them to another airport is taken, resulting in additional costs.
“All airlines would prefer to land at the destination they had headed for. So they hover above for as long as they can, before deciding to divert. This costs an additional Rs 1 lakh per flight”, Siddhant Sharma, CEO of Spicejet told the Hindustan Times.
An average of 50 flights a day have been diverted in the last three days, resulting in an additional cost of Rs 3.5 crore across the industry.
Apart from public sector Indian Airlines (IA), very few carriers have an adequate number of pilots trained in the latest CAT IIIB instrument landing system. Most private airlines simply cannot navigate flights in low visibility conditions, resulting in delays and diversions.
There are also costs relating to “startup delays”, which occur when flights are lined up in the runway, but have to wait a long time for their turn to take off.
“Startup delays cost about Rs 50,000 per flight,” said a senior executive of a low cost carrier, who did not wish to be identified.
Besides there is the cost of serving refreshments to stranded passengers if the flight is delayed by more than two hours. Most flights are also operating close to full capacity – the load factor is usually between 75 and 85 per cent -- due to the peak holiday season. This has left little room for accommodating passengers of other airlines, even though they may have interline agreements with one another.
For international flights, the costs caused by such delays are higher because passengers have to be accommodated in five star category hotels in the city if flight cancellations or delays force them to stay in Delhi overnight. There are about 3,000 hotel rooms available in the five star category and tariffs are currently hovering around Rs 15,000 per night.
This involves still more expenses. But such rooms are hard to get, as hotels too are packed at this time of the year.
It also costs about $500 per passenger for an airline if it were to accommodate its passengers onto another airline with whom it has an interline agreement.
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