Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Donald Trump’s Iran threat is the last problem Indian flyers want to deal with

Six months into 2019, Indian flyers are still waiting for their year to take off. But it may only nosedive.

The country’s aviation sector faces a whole host of troubles, including rising fares, shortage of flights, and increasing travel duration due to various reasons.

“The turbulence over the past few months is a result of various factors which have reduced the number of operational flights in Indian skies and, as a result, increased the price of air travel,” said Balu Ramachandran, senior vice-president of the Mumbai-based travel portal Cleartrip.

Trouble began early in the year when over 20 flights per day were cancelled in February due to a shortage of pilots and bad weather. Things spilled over into March when sector regulator directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA), along with counterparts in many countries, grounded the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft due to safety concerns.

Flyers also bore the brunt of an incessant rise in fuel prices.

However, the real nightmare came with the shutdown of India’s oldest private airline, Jet Airways, in April. Its decision to halt operations sparked panic and confusion among flyers, many of whom are still awaiting refunds and seeking help on social media.

Troubles to continue
There is no end in sight for travellers’ woes. So much so that, growth in air traffic has slowed down considerably.

“The number of air travellers in India registered a year-on-year increase of 2.62% between January and May 2019, growing from 57 million to 58 million. This is a steep slowdown from the 15-20% growth in many previous quarters,” said Ramachandran.

Now, there is fresh trouble on the horizon.
26/06/19 Niharika Sharma/Quartz
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