New Delhi: Domestic private airlines on Sunday put on hold a proposed 18 August strike after at least two low-fare carriers pulled out of the action and the government refused to bow to demands for a cut in taxes on aviation fuel and reduced airport charges.
The decision was announced by the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), the lobbying group for private airlines.
“In view of the agitated public sentiment, and potential inconvenience to thousands of passengers on one hand and the government’s keenness to enter into dialogue, the FIA has decided to put on hold its decision to suspend flights on August 18,” the FIA said in a statement on Sunday.
The announcement came after SpiceJet Ltd, which runs India’s second biggest discount carrier, on Sunday joined rival InterGlobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd, which operates IndiGo, in pulling out of the proposed strike.
“The bookings are on for 18 August,” SpiceJet Ltd’s chief executive officer Sanjay Aggarwal said. SpiceJet controls around a 12% share of the domestic passenger traffic. IndiGo withdrew from the strike a day earlier. Regional carrier MDLR Airlines also said it wouldn’t join the 18 August strike, PTI reported.
Both full-service and low-cost carriers grouped in FIA had intended to join the proposed strike announced on Friday, demanding government help to stay in business amid mounting losses they blamed partly on high state taxation on aviation fuel, their biggest expense, and steep airport charges.
Jet Airways (India) Ltd, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, SpiceJet, InterGlobe Aviation and GoAir India Pvt. Ltd together control around 80% of the market.
National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, which runs the flag carrier Air India, stayed away from the proposed strike and a spokesperson said on Sunday that it would deploy additional aircraft on domestic routes to minimize any disruptions.
The government adopted a tough posture, saying it could not be expected to help private carriers financially.
PTI contributed to this story.