As fares take off, airlines told to increase flights

The meeting came as Jet Airways continued to ground more aircraft as the airline has been unable to make payments to lenders, suppliers, employees and lessors of aircraft.

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday said it has asked airlines to operate more flights to prevent increase in airfares, as the spectre of high ticket prices loomed with the grounding of planes in the crisis-hit sector.

The DGCA held meetings with airline executives, including that of cash-strapped Jet Airways, on soaring airfares on specific sectors.

The meeting came as Jet Airways continued to ground more aircraft as the airline has been unable to make payments to lenders, suppliers, employees and lessors of aircraft.

Airlines’ executives have assured the regulator that they will keep airfares under check.

“Current availability of aircraft in the (Jet Airways) fleet for operation is 41 and accordingly schedule for 603 domestic flights and 382 international flights has been drawn,” the DGCA said in a statement.

SpiceJet had to ground 12 Boeing 737-Max aircraft after the DGCA banned them from flying in the wake of Ethiopian Airlines plane crash.

The DGCA said the situation was fluid and that Jet Airways may further reduce the number of aircraft it is flying in the coming weeks.

Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked the DGCA to monitor the situation at Jet Airways and asked them to safeguard public interest and safety.

Accordingly, the DGCA has issued directions to Jet Airways to ensure that all its aircraft are maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance programme.

For the past few weeks, passengers have been venting their ire on social media as the airline’s flight cancellations have increased gradually due to the rising number of grounded aircraft.

The DGCA has also asked Jet Airways to inform passengers in time about changes in flight schedules, provide compensation, refunds and alternate flights wherever applicable.

The Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Association sought the intervention of the DGCA over the non-payment of salaries by Jet Airways for three months.

In more trouble for the airline, the National Aviators Guild, a body representing around 1,000 domestic pilots of Jet Airways, has warned the management of the Jet Airways that they will stop flying from April 1 if their pending salaries are not paid by end of this month.

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