NEW DELHI: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday ordered SpiceJet to operate a truncated schedule — half of the allowed fights — this summer. The airline has also been put under “enhanced surveillance” for 8 weeks.
The cash-strapped airline will be allowed to scale up operations only after proving that it has “sufficient, technical support and financial resource to safely and efficiently undertake such enhanced capacity.”
The aviation regulator issued an interim order on Wednesday on the showcase notice it had issued to the airline on July 5 and after receiving its comments on the same within the given three weeks.
SpiceJet anyway has been operating about 300 flights daily in past few weeks which is half of the approved weekly 4,100-odd flights. So this order may have no impact on the airline operationally, apart from planes that are being subjected to stricter checks.
“We are not cancelling a single flight due to this order,” said airline sources.
All financially strained airlines have cut down on the number of flights as domestic traffic has fallen sharply after record high jet fuel prices and record low value of rupee forced fare hikes. This has led to a fall in the number of daily domestic flyers to below 3 lakh compared to pre-Covid level of about 4.2 lakh.
“In view of findings of various spot checks, inspections and the reply to the show cause notice for continued sustenance of safe and reliable air transport service, the number of departures of SpiceJet are hereby restricted to 50% of the number of departures approved under summer schedule of eight weeks from (July 27, 2022).… Any increase in the number of departures beyond 50% of the number of departures approved under summer schedule 2022, during this period, shall be subject to the airline demonstrating to the satisfaction of DGCA that it has sufficient technical support and financial resource to safely and efficiently undertake such enhanced capacity,” the order issued by DGCA joint DG Maneesh Kumar said.
It further added that incidents on SpiceJet aircraft from April 1 to July 5 were reviewed.
“On a number of occasions, the aircraft either turned back to its originating station or continued landing to the destination with degraded safety margins. There is poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions, which have resulted in degradation of the safety margins,” the order said.
“Financial assessment carried out by DGCA in September last year had revealed SpiceJet is operating on cash and carry and suppliers / approved vendors are not being paid on regular basis leading to the shortage of spares and frequent invoking of minimum equipment list (MEL)… it was deduced SpiceJet failed to establish a safe, efficient and reliable air transport service,” the order said.
SpiceJet had submitted a reply to the showcase notice by DGCA on July 25. “The same has been reviewed at appropriate level and it has been observed that SpiceJet is taking measures for arresting the trend of incidents. However, the airline needs to sustain these efforts for safe and reliable air transport service,” Maneesh Kumar’s order said.
Responding to the order, SpiceJet issued a statement saying: “We are in receipt of the DGCA order and will act as per directions of the regulator. Due to the current lean travel season, SpiceJet like other airlines had already rescheduled its flight operations.”
The airline further assured that there will be absolutely no impact on flight operations.
“We want to reassure our passengers and travel partners that our flights will operate as per schedule in the coming days and weeks. There will be no flight cancellation as a consequence of this order. DGCA’s observation that SpiceJet is taking measures for arresting the trend of incidents is very encouraging and we will continue to work under the close guidance of the regulator,” the airline said.