Airlines that have shown consistent delays in certain scheduled departure slots from April 1, will not get the same slots between October 1 and March 31.
This is the first time the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the country’s aviation regulator, has punished airlines for consistent delays.
“At Mumbai airport, we have withdrawn 25 slots from airlines that were consistently late and have given the slots to the punctual ones,” said Alok Sinha, joint secretary with the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Domestic carriers were eagerly bidding for these lucrative slots during the morning peak hours — between 5.30 am and 9 am. “If such a slot goes to a competitor, it’s a direct blow to the company,” said a senior official with a private airlines requesting anonymity. “It will make airlines pull up their socks.”
The DGCA took the decision on the basis of a report submitted by the Mumbai airport operator, which was asked to identify airlines that regularly missed their departure slots.
The authority had warned airlines soon after it enforced a rule on July 19 that would punish delayed flights by sending them to the end of the departure queue. Punctuality of flights improved dramatically after enforcement of the rule.
While nine out of 10 departures from Mumbai are now on time — earlier only half of scheduled departures were punctual — at least 80 per cent of arrivals are on time.