oppn parties Aviation Sector Facing Headwinds

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Calcutta HC scraps 2016 teacher appointment process, 25757 teachers to lose their jobs, ordered to repay salaries withdrawn in 4 weeks
oppn parties
Aviation Sector Facing Headwinds

By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2023-01-12 06:49:39

There is something seriously wrong with the aviation sector in India. Throughout 2022 and again in 2023, several damning incidents have taken place that proves that rules are not followed and things are getting out of hand. In June 2022, there were several reports of SpiceJet aircrafts not being maintained properly and posing a threat to flyers. Several of its flights were involved in turbulent landings or engine failures or fire in engines. On 6 July, the DGCA had issued a strongly-worded show-cause notice to SpiceJet following eight incidents of technical malfunction in its aircraft since June 19 and questions were raised in the media about the cash-strapped airline's viability.

Then, there were several incidents of on-ground and in-flight brawl either between co-passengers or between airline staff and passengers. On August 24, a Spicejet Ahmedabad-Varanasi flight suffered a delay of eight hours. This resulted in a scuffle that broke out between passengers and airport staff at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport.

Then, in the most damning incident ever, on November 26 (the incident was reported a month later) a drunk passenger urinated on a lady passenger on an Air India flight from New York. The airline did not follow rules to charge the offending passenger and tried to broker peace between the two, allowing the offender to walk off scot free on arrival. Air India chairman N Chandrasekaran admitted that the airline mishandled the situation and its response should have been much swifter and as per rules. The airline grounded the pilot and the crew involved.

Finally on January 9 2023, in a bizarre incident, a GoFirst flight from Bengaluru took off even as 55 passengers with valid boarding passes were in the bus taking them to the aircraft. It was a serious goof-up by ground staff and airline crew who did not match the number of boarding passes issued and the number of passengers on board and if they did, did not inquire where the rest of the passengers were when they found 55 short. The DGCA has issued a show-cause notice.

These incidents show that low-cost airlines are cuttings corners in some cases and are not following the rules in others. With India showing a healthy growth of 14-15% every year and more and more people preferring to fly rather than catch a train, these problems are going to multiply if the aviation sector does not address the root causes. This does not bode well for the safety of passengers and the crew. The DGCA must ensure that the airlines follow the rules strictly. 

Postscript: The day this article was posted, two more disgusting incidents were reported. In the first, SpiceJet kept flyers waiting for 8 hours at Pune airport as it could not take them to Ahmedabad for 'techincal reasons'. They had to spend the night at the airport. When the flight did take off at 4.30 am in the morning, it returned within 10 minutes due to 'technical snag' and it was subsequently cancelled.

In the second incident, it was SpiceJet again as it kept flyers waiting in the areobridge for more than an hour. Both the gates were locked and the flyers could not board the aircraft (which, evidently, was being cleaned and not ready for boarding) nor go back to the tarmac. Why were they allowed on the aerobridge if the aircraft was not ready for boarding?