Monday, April 29, 2019

Air India reported worst punctuality, most flight delays in March

The grounding of Jet Airways has kept the limelight on troubles being faced by India's airlines these last few weeks, but perhaps not enough discussion has happened on Air India and its continued poor operational parameters.

This weekend a passenger service system (PSS) outage led to delays of AI flights on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, reservations, check-ins and baggage handling were affected by the glitch from 0430 hrs till 0845 hrs. Quick response from the management helped limit the pain for flyers with only 149 flights delayed; another 137 were delayed beyond two hours by Sunday morning and the situation was expected to normalise by Monday. But delays and flight cancellations are nothing new for AI passengers.

The airline reported the highest number of flight cancellations, worst on-time performance and the lowest load factor (percentage of occupied seats) in March, as per Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data. This despite a tottering Jet Airways leading to a severe capacity crunch in the domestic market. While other airlines booked incremental passengers and talked of leasing more aircraft, AI continued to report low occupancy and delays.
Data released by DGCA showed 9% AI flights, or almost every 11th domestic flight, was cancelled last month. JetLite cancelled fewer (7.4%) flights while the market leader IndiGo cancelled only 0.17% of its flights. Last month, as Jet – India's second largest airline by passengers till recently – floundered and operated a skeletal schedule – other airlines booked incremental passengers. But AI's load factor (number of occupied seats as percentage of total seats) was the lowest among all scheduled airlines at 80.8%; two in 10 domestic seats were empty despite the industry-wide capacity crunch and in a month when every other scheduled airline filled up at least 86% seats.
29/04/19 Sindhu Bhattacharya/DNA
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