Budget airline SpiceJet was ordered today to operate only 50 per cent of its flights for eight weeks by the aviation regulator in an unprecedented crackdown after an unusually high number of safety incidents involving the airline. SpiceJet said this would have no impact on its flights in the lean travel season and no flights would be cancelled.
“In view of findings of various spot checks, inspections and the reply to the show cause notice submitted by SpiceJet, for continued sustenance of safe and reliable air transport service, the number of departures of SpiceJet are restricted to 50% of the number of departures approved… for a period of eight weeks,” said the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in an order.
During these eight weeks, the airline would be subjected to “enhanced surveillance” by the DGCA.
This could be the most stringent action any airline has faced in recent times.
“Any increase in the number of departures beyond 50 per cent” would be subject to the airline “demonstrating to the satisfaction of DGCA that it has sufficient technical support and financial resource to safely and efficiently undertake such enhanced capacity”, said the order.
The regulator said SpiceJet had “failed to establish a safe, efficient and reliable air transport service”. The airline is taking measures to arrest the trend, the order noted, but it needs to sustain its efforts for a safe and reliable air transport service.
In its response, SpiceJet said there would be no flight cancellations because of the order because flights have already been reworked in the lean travel season.
“We are in receipt of the DGCA order and will act as per directions of the regulator. Due to the current lean travel season, SpiceJet like other airlines had already rescheduled its flight operations. Hence, there will be absolutely no impact on our flight operations. We want to reassure our passengers and travel partners that our flights will operate as per schedule in the coming days and weeks. There will be no flight cancellation as a consequence of this order,” said the airline’s statement.
“DGCA’s observation that SpiceJet is taking measures for arresting the trend of incidents is very encouraging and we will continue to work under the close guidance of the regulator,” it stated.
The government had warned SpiceJet after eight incidents of flight safety were reported in a matter of 18 days.
In one case, an aircraft flying from Kandla in Gujarat made a priority landing in Mumbai after its windshield developed a crack mid-air.
There were separate instances of smoke in the cabin, a malfunctioning indicator light and a bird hit among others.
The airline had yesterday put out a tweet denying any safety violations.
India’s most-preferred airline is as safe and reliable as it has been for the last 17 years. Aviation regulator DGCA audited our entire operational fleet and every plane has been given the green signal to fly and there has been no safety violation. https://t.co/qF9fzxFyfv— SpiceJet (@flyspicejet) July 26, 2022
“India’s most-preferred airline is as safe and reliable as it has been for the last 17 years. Aviation regulator DGCA audited our entire operational fleet and every plane has been given the green signal to fly and there has been no safety violation,” SpiceJet had tweeted yesterday.