Sunday, March 17, 2019

Don’t allow forward bookings by airlines: passengers’ forum

The Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) has asked the Civil Aviation Ministry to prevent airlines from carrying out forward bookings — for over six months in advance — given their precarious financial state and the ban on Boeing 737-Max 8.
“The government should not allow airlines to do forward booking especially for a year. Our past experience shows that gullible passengers lost hundreds of crore [five years ago] when Paramount, Kingfisher and Spicejet collected money in the name of advance booking,” APAI president Sudhakara Reddy said.

Mr. Reddy claimed when the airline schedules were disrupted and aircraft remained grounded, passengers lost all their money and might not even have received refunds.
Speaking about Jet Airways which is in financial crisis, Mr. Reddy said it should not be allowed to take advance booking with fancy offers, as its situation was going from bad to worse day by day. “There is uncertainty even after the Jet Airways board agreed to a resolution,” the APAI president said.

As of Saturday morning, 46.2 % of the Jet Airways aircraft remained grounded over dues to be paid to lessors. Aviation analyst Ameya Gore put the number of Jet Airways aircraft on ground at 55. “It is a very critical situation. Forty-four of the total airline fleet down comprise the Boeing 737 aircraft. Besides there are nine ATRs, one Airbus 330 and a Boeing 777 on ground,” he said.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the country’s aviation regulator, had grounded the Boeing 737-Max 8 fleet owing to safety concerns following the recent Ethiopian plane crash.
Spicejet has 13 aircraft on ground due to the Boeing 737 ban and Indigo has already announced cancellations of 30 flights-a-day till March 30. GoAir had a few aircraft on ground in Kannur as it was negotiating with lessors, sources said.
16/03/19 Aditya Anand/The Hindu