Fare scare as Indian carriers ground 117 planes

Last Updated 20 March 2019, 17:42 IST

With roughly one-fifth of the total fleet strength of the top seven domestic airlines grounded, passengers may face the challenge of increased airfares just ahead of the summer holidays.

Top seven airlines — IndiGo, Air India, Jet Airways, GoAir, SpiceJet, Air Vistara and Air Asia — together have a fleet of 674 aircraft.

According to industry research firm Care Ratings, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Air India and GoAir together have grounded 117 planes due to various reasons.

Facing financial trouble, Jet Airways has grounded 81 — or more than two-thirds — of its fleet of 119 aircraft due to non-payment of dues to lessors. The grounding of Jet Airways aircraft has already led to the cancellation of domestic and international flights.

SpiceJet has grounded 12 Boeing 737-Max aircraft from its fleet of 75 planes on the directions of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation after the March 13 crash of the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft of similar make that killed all 157 people on board.

Four months ago, another B737-Max, operated by Indonesian airline Lion Air, had plunged into the sea killing 189 passengers and crew.

SpiceJet and Jet Airways were the only airlines in India to operate B737-Max planes. Jet Airways had grounded the B737-Max aircraft much before the DGCA order.

Go Air, which operates a fleet of 49 aircraft, has grounded at least six Airbus320Neo aircraft which had developed some engine trouble.

According to aviation sector watchers, at least 17 aircraft of national carrier Air India have been grounded for maintenance works. Air India, Air India Express and Alliance Air together operate a fleet of 178 aircraft.

IndiGo has a fleet of 213 aircraft, while Air Asia and Tata Sons-venture Vistara operate a fleet of 20 aircraft each.

Reports had it that SpiceJet was exploring options to lease some of the grounded aircraft of Jet Airways to make good the shortfall caused due to the grounding of 12 of its B737-Max aircraft.

On Tuesday, the DGCA had asked airline executives to run more flights to prevent an increase in the airfares ahead of the summer holidays season.

(Published 20 March 2019, 12:49 IST)

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