Delays are all set to cost airlines dear. The civil aviation ministry is likely to withdraw some existing take-off and landing slots from domestic airlines during the winter schedule from October 2011 to March 2012 owing to poor punctuality record.
The ministry’s records show that 216 flights taking off and landing in Mumbai have been frequently delayed (delayed 20% of the instances they were operated in the past two months).
From April this year, acting on the ministry’s directive, the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has been drawing up a list of flights that were frequently delayed.
The move was aimed at exposing errant airlines and alerting passengers about flights to be avoided. “Denial of existing slots is being considered to punish airlines with a poor punctuality record. The final list of airlines likely to lose slots would be drawn up on the basis of the airlines’ on-time performance from April to September,” said a civil aviation ministry official, requesting anonymity.
The official added that delays owing to poor visibility during the monsoon would not be considered. The fear of losing slots could force airlines to improve their performance. “Losing slots would instantly reflect in the airline’s revenues. The ministry’s move is likely to bring in discipline in flight movement,” said a senior executive with an aviation consultancy firm requesting anonymity.
The ministry’s move to expose errant airlines resulted in improvement in traffic with the number of frequently delayed flights dropping from 328 in April to 280 in May.
However, a significant number of flights, which were pulled up for poor performance in April, continued to miss their schedule in May.
For instance, 36 city-bound flights operated by Kingfisher Airlines were frequently delayed in April. The same flights were consistently delayed in May too. Air India operated 37 flights that repeatedly took-off late in April. Twenty-five of these flights fared poorly again last month (see box for details).