More than 50 flights operated by budget airline IndiGo were cancelled in the past three days. InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, which runs the largest domestic carrier, said the disruptions were primarily due to the hailstorm that hit north India on Thursday. However, operations of other airlines were not disrupted as much as that of IndiGo during 8-10 February.
IndiGo flights were disrupted from across major airports including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Goa, Pune, Guwahati, Chennai and Raipur during the weekend.
At least 27 IndiGo flights were cancelled in Bengaluru on Saturday and Sunday due to unavailability of staff, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Several flights were also disrupted in New Delhi and Mumbai.
While seven flights were cancelled on Saturday and Sunday at the Chennai airport, eight flights were cancelled in Hyderabad on Sunday, another industry official said. At least three IndiGo flights were cancelled or delayed in Mumbai on Sunday. Three IndiGo flights were cancelled from Jaipur on Saturday and Sunday.
Mint could not independently verify the exact number of flights that were cancelled. When contacted, IndiGo did not comment on the number of flights that were delayed or cancelled across its network in the last few days.
“Due to a severe hailstorm in North India on Friday, Feb 08, 2019, 11 IndiGo flights were diverted. Consequently, this disrupted operations across our network the following day," IndiGo said in a statement. “As part of recovering our schedule, positioning of the crew and aircraft had to be readjusted. As a result, a number of flights were cancelled."
An industry official said requesting anonymity that pilot and cabin crew shortage at IndiGo led to flight disruptions. “IndiGo has been aggressively increasing capacity, and has been facing crew and pilot shortage for quite sometime now. This has likely caused the disruptions during the past few days as there were no major issues that could have cancelled or delayed so many flights."
The capacity at Mumbai airport is already restricted currently with the runways closed for maintenance every alternate day between 7 February and 30 March, which is expected to affect over 250 flights.
The country’s third busiest airport, Kempegowda International Airport, in Bengaluru, is also expected to be on a partial shutdown during the Aero India 2019 show on 20-24 February.
In the past year, IndiGo had to cancel or delay several flights due to the faulty Pratt & Whitney engines, which powered its Airbus fleet. The engine maker is carrying out a root cause analysis for the main gear box and the results are expected in the coming weeks, the P&W India spokesperson had said earlier. However, the current set of cancellations is not due to P&W engine.
Earlier this month, the airline had said that it expects capacity to grow 34% in the current quarter as it continues to take delivery of at least one Airbus A320Neo aircraft per week.
IndiGo took delivery of 19 Airbus aircraft in the December quarter. It added 55 Airbus aircraft in the past year, and is expected to induct more new planes at the same rate this year in order to replace some of its older planes.
According to its website, IndiGo currently has 210 aircraft, including the A320Neo, A320 CEO, A321 and ATR.