Rear seat passengers booked on a SpiceJet flight get to board first so that aisle is not blocked and timely boarding allows take-off on time. The Air India cabin crew picks up cabin litter before touchdown to ration on an aircraft’s cleaning time before its subsequent journey.
Some domestic airlines have come up with small measures to budget time as choked metro airports such as Mumbai are struggling to cut down long airport waits.
“We have inculcated a high level of motivation and efficiency among our staff to improve the turnaround time,” said Kamal Hingorani, senior vice president, head of in-flight services and customer Experience at SpiceJet. Sequential boarding (passengers between row 20 to row 30 board first) and countdown-styled cell phone calls to passengers late in reaching the boarding gate were some recent measures that helped the airline improve its on-time performance (OTP) even at congested airports such as Mumbai, he added.
“Our OTP at Mumbai in November was the highest (70%) despite the frequent runway closures.” The airline also managed to bring down the average per passenger boarding time from a minute to 45 seconds.
But its limited scale of operations gave a natural advantage to the no-frills carrier, said industry experts. With just about 1,400 arrivals and departures at Mumbai in November, SpiceJet’s operations were approximately one-fourth the scale of operators such as Indigo and Jet Airways. Even Air India operated 2,321 flights.
Domestic flights in India have a turnaround time of 30 minutes. Offloading 150-odd passengers, cleaning the aircraft, running an engineering check, refuelling it and boarding another batch of passengers takes place within that time.
Some airlines have also taken stern action against fliers who hold up flights. “A section of frequent fliers felt that an airline cannot off load you once you have checked-in a bag because security rules do not permit a plane to fly with checked baggage of a missing passenger. Now, airlines have softwares that can easily trace a bag in the aircraft belly,” said an executive with an aviation think tank, adding that there of been cases of late fliers with checked bags off loaded from flights that took off on schedule.