Friday, September 20, 2019

Fly Delhi-Istanbul flights with upto 22% seats vacant on strong headwind days, DGCA tells IndiGo

New Delhi: Fly your planes with 15% to 22% seats unoccupied while operating on the Delhi-Istanbul route on strong headwind days, India’s aviation regulator directed IndiGo on Friday. The budget airline’s 186-seater Airbus A320 Neos should have upto 157 passengers on board and the 222-seater A321s should have no more than 173 passengers on board on such days.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) chief Arun Kumar’s directive came after passengers on many of IndiGo’s Delhi-Istanbul flights in recent days were discovering that while they reached their destination, their baggage hadn’t taken off from Delhi. The reason: Due to strong headwinds IndiGo’s Delhi-Istanbul flying time has been over seven hours in past few weeks which is pretty close to the maximum operating range of the single aisle Airbus A320/321s used by it. So to carry more fuel, baggage was being left behind on IndiGo's Delhi-Istanbul flights of last Sunday and a few more days of all or most of the passengers.

Now to ensure that such things don’t recur and also to ensure the airline can carry more fuel on 15-22% emptier planes, Kumar issued this directive. Strong headwinds for west-bound flights will continue for some months. For this reason, Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco flight frequently takes the Pacific route to US and then flies back to Delhi over the Atlantic to get tailwinds all the way and save fuel.

About Istanbul-bound passengers whose bags were left in Delhi in recent days, an IndiGo official said: “We have sent an individual letter of regret to the affected passengers along with a coupon of Rs 5,000 that can be used in their future travels.” IndiGo operates two daily flights between Delhi and Istanbul on its single aisle fleet. Turkish Airlines is the only other carrier to fly on Delhi-Istanbul route but they use wide body planes and therefore do not face issues like their code share partner IndiGo.
20/09/19 Saurbah Sinha/Times of India
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