Mumbai, Mar 14: It’s a chaotic week for air travellers! Domestic carriers IndiGo and GoAir cancelled around 50 flights today as almost one-third of their A320 Neo aircraft fleet remained grounded for the third day following a safety directive by the country’s aviation watchdog DGCA.
IndiGo has cancelled 42 flights for March 14. This includes flights to Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Jaipur, Srinagar, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Delhi, Dehradun, Amritsar, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, among others, the airline announced on its website.
However, the Wadia Group-promoted GoAir said it had cancelled a total of six flights today due to the grounding of three of its A320 Neo planes, as against 18 yesterday.
The Gurugram-headquartered IndiGo operates over 1,000 daily flights while GoAir offers 230 services daily.
Yesterday, the two airlines together had cancelled over 65 flights, with IndiGo alone cancelling over 47 services, due to the grounding of their 11 aircraft — eight of IndiGo and three of GoAir — by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on March 13, citing passengers safety concerns arising out of the mid-air shut down of the Pratt& Whitney- manufactured Neo engines of these airplanes.
There are a total of 45 A320 Neo planes fitted with P&W engines with the two airlines.
Of these, IndiGo has 33 and GoAir 12 planes. The cancellation of services in a large number has put thousands of passengers at inconvenience as they had pre-booked these flights amid the concerns of exorbitant fares which are charged by the carriers for last-minute travel.
However, the two carriers had yesterday said they were taking measures to minimise inconvenience to the passengers whose flights have been cancelled by booking them on alternative flights as well giving them the option of cancelling or rescheduling their travel without any extra cost.
A320neos, manufactured by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus and powered by American aerospace manufacturer Pratt and Whitney’s (PW) turbofan engines, have faced engine problems leading to frequent failures in recent months. However, a twin-engine plane can fly even if one engine fails.
Were the passengers flying in risky planes earlier?
Well, yes. DGCA action was prompted by mid-air engine failure of IndiGo A320neo aircraft which was flying from Ahmedabad to Lucknow. But that wasn’t the first failure. On March 5, IndiGo A320neo engine failed on takeoff from Mumbai and had to return for an emergency landing within half an hour. On February 24, a GoAir A320neo that took off from Leh had a mid-air engine failure.
Three recent engine failures and DGCA sprung into action. Number of engine failures have been more frequent in the recent past without attracting enough attention.