Ministry seeks report on Vistara flight cancellations, delays

| | New Delhi
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Ministry seeks report on Vistara flight cancellations, delays

Wednesday, 03 April 2024 | Rajesh Kumar | New Delhi

Ministry seeks report on Vistara flight cancellations, delays

A day after Vistara decided to temporarily curtail its daily flight schedule, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has sought a detailed report from the Tata group airline amid non-availability of pilots causing flight cancellations and major delays.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has also asked Vistara to submit a daily report on the flights that are being cancelled and delayed. Vistara has been facing backlash from passengers on social media due to significant operational challenges. Over the past week, flights have either been cancelled or delayed.

Vistara has cancelled around 60 flights on Tuesday after the airline cancelled approximately 50 flights and 160 delayed on Monday. The number could even go up to 70.

In the ongoing summer schedule, Vistara will be operating 25.22 per cent more weekly flights at 2,324. Many passengers have taken to social media to complain about flight delays and cancellations.

Reflecting the impact of flight cancellations and delays, Vistara’s On Time Performance (OTP) touched 51.4 per cent on April 1 and it was the lowest among the scheduled airlines, as per the latest data from the civil aviation ministry.  The airline’s passenger load factor stood at 85.4 per cent on April 1, the data showed.

The airline has also been asked to ensure that “facilities are provided to passengers by airlines due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights and delays in flights”. Officials are also monitoring the situation to ensure compliance, DGCA said. This is to minimise the inconvenience to passengers, it said.

 

The Ministry of Civil Aviation also commented, saying it is monitoring the situation of Vistara flight cancellations.

“However, flight operations are managed by airlines themselves. Airlines have to comply with DGCA norms to ensure passenger facilitation in case of cancellation or delay of flights,” the Ministry said in a post on X.

However, flight operations are managed by Airlines themselves. Airlines have to comply with DGCA norms to ensure passenger facilitation in case of cancellation or delay of flights.

The airline operates a little over 300 flights daily and has a fleet of 70 planes comprising A320-family aircraft and Boeing 787s.

Vistara said it was forced to cut a number of flights as it was dealing with a shortage of pilots and crew as a company spokesperson said in a statement, “We have had a significant number of flight cancellations and delays in the past few days due to various reasons including crew unavailability.”

The spokesperson also said efforts are being made to stabilise the situation and that operations at regular capacity will resume soon. Teams are working towards minimising the discomfort to the customers, the spokesperson added.

A day after the carrier announced reducing operations due to non-availability of crew and other operational reasons, sources on Tuesday said some commanders as well as first officers of its A320 fleet are also reporting sick to protest pay revisions due to signing of new contracts.

The airline has around 800 pilots and the senior first officers who resigned had completed their conversion training that allowed them to operate wide-body Boeing 787 planes. However, they did not get the duty for flying the 787 aircraft, the sources said.

Many passengers have taken to social media to complain about flight delays and cancellations. Some even tagged Ratan Tata in their posts. A frustrated passenger pleaded for help on social media after Vistara cancelled the flight from Ranchi to Delhi.

He claimed that his grandfather was on his deathbed. He wrote, “Vistara, my flight UK754 from Ranchi to Delhi was cancelled (April 2), and I have to go to Delhi urgently as my grandfather is on his deathbed. Please help arrange another flight on any airline on the same day. Your staff has refused to do so.”

In recent weeks, discontent has been simmering among pilots at Vistara, which is in the process of getting merged with Air India, following the new contracts wherein there are concerns that fixed pay component is getting reduced and there is more flying-linked incentive in the salary structure.

The new contracts that will bring parity between pilots of Vistara and Air India have been introduced as part of the ongoing merger process.  Vistara is a joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines.

Many first officers of Vistara’s A320 fleet have been reporting sick in the past few weeks and on Monday alone, around 50 flights were cancelled and many were delayed as there were not enough pilots to operate flights.  The sources said that now some commanders of the A320 fleet are reporting sick.

Vistara has a fleet of 70 planes comprising 63 aircraft from A320 family and 7 wide-body Boeing 787s. As per the summer schedule, which started from March 31, the airline is to operate little over 300 flights daily.  Vistara said it had a significant number of flight cancellations and delays in the past few days due to various reasons, including crew unavailability.

“We have decided to temporarily reduce the number of flights we operate, to ensure adequate connectivity across our network,” the airline had said and also apologised for the disruptions.  The airline has also decided to temporarily reduce the number of flights it operates, to ensure adequate connectivity across its network.

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