DGCA calls meeting with airlines on Tuesday to discuss rising air fares

  • A significant number of cancellations by Jet Airways and SpiceJet in the last few weeks has led to an increase in air fares
  • Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways on Monday said it has grounded four more planes and would delay paying interest on maturing debt 

New Delhi: Aviation watchdog DGCA has called a meeting on Tuesday noon to discuss with airlines the upward spiral in airfares as Jet Airways continue to ground its aircraft and cancel a significant number of flights, a government official said.

According to the official, after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grounded all 12 of SpiceJet's 737 Max aircraft on March 13 following the Ethiopian Airlines crash, that killed 157 people, the problem of rising air fares in the Indian market has "aggravated".

"DGCA has called a meeting at Tuesday noon to discuss rising air fares rise because of significant number of cancellations done by Jet Airways in the last few weeks," the government official told PTI.

Cash-strapped Jet Airways Monday said it has grounded four more planes, taking the number of aircraft that are non-operational due to non-payment of lease rentals to 41.

Etihad Airport services, in a notification to its passengers, on Sunday, said, "Jet Airways has cancelled all their flights from Abu Dhabi with immediate effect from March 18 due to operational reasons".

According to its website, the airline has a fleet of 119 planes.

For last few weeks, passengers have been venting their ire on social media as Jet Airways' flight cancellations increased gradually due to the rising number of grounded aircraft.

Grappling with financial woes, the carrier has been looking at ways to raise fresh funds.

In a filing to the stock exchanges on Monday, the airline said, "An additional four aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors under their respective lease agreements."

The company had earlier said it was in discussions with aircraft lessors and were regularly providing them with updates on the efforts taken to improve liquidity.

On March 8, Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal wrote to Etihad Airways Group CEO Tony Douglas, seeking an urgent funding of 750 crore and also warned that any delay in fund infusion might result in grounding of the carrier, He had said that more than 50 aircraft were grounded amid increasing arrears of vendors and salaries to a section of employees.

Jet Airways has a debt of over 8,200 crore and needs to make repayments of up to 1,700 crore by the end of March.

On March 10, a 737 MAX aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed near Addis Ababa killing 157 people, including four Indians. This was the second such crash involving the 737 MAX aircraft in less than five months. In October last year, an aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed killed over 180 people in Indonesia.

On March 13, the DGCA grounded all 12 of SpiceJet's 737 Max aircraft.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.