Thursday, January 04, 2018

Why airlines don't deboard passengers when there's delay on tarmac

New Delhi: It was not a pleasant first day of the year for the passengers of Jet Airways 9W-907 flight. While they boarded the Delhi-Kolkata flight on time at 10 am, the aircraft could only take off  after five hours at 3 pm. “It was a harrowing experience to wait inside the aircraft for five hours, there were children, elderly people there and since the aircraft was on the ground we were not being allowed to use the lavatory,” said Smriti Mantri, a passenger on the flight.

With the north India fog severely disrupting airline’s schedule, one of the biggest irritants for flyers has been to wait endlessly inside the aircraft waiting for it to fly. Planes pushed back from the gate, only to sit on the runway for what seemed eternity.

So why doesn’t the airline allow passengers to deplane during such delay? Blame it on multiple factors like complicated rules, which makes deboarding of passengers time consuming in a cutthroat business that forces airlines to jam multiple flights in a thin time slot, while battling infrastructure crunch at airports.
First, why are the airlines reluctant to deboard passengers in case of delay? The way, aviation system currently works in India, aircraft enter the take-off queue on a first-come-first-serve basis. The aircraft gets a departure sequence only when it has closed its door after boarding passengers. “Once I close the doors, I am in the queue, during extreme foggy days when schedules have been disrupted, there can be 100 planes in the queue, if I return to the gate I lose the sequence and delay my passenger even more,” said the commander of a private airline.
Airline officials say that there needs to be a change in this process. “The departure sequence number should be given based on the scheduled time of departure and not boarding status if an airline misses the sequence once the fog clears, put them at the bottom of the list,” said an executive of a private airline.
04/01/18 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard