It’s that time of the year again when people who have been saving their precious leaves all year long from their offices and institutions to travel at the end of the year. It’s winter season and with it comes fog and impromptu rains. During this time of the year, people just start expecting issues with airlines and flights that they provide. But is this the only cause for flight delays or is this just one of the many excuses that are fed to us by the authorities? The airlines and airports are quick to exchange blame for flight delays and other problems that hinder easy travel for frequent flyers.
Indian airline industry has been growing at a consistent pace. The domestic passenger traffic is being doubled almost every five years. It has grown from 2.3 crore passengers in 2005 to 5.1 crore in 2010 and now it stands at nearly 10 crore in 2016. According to Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) data, this makes India the third largest domestic air market in the world and according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) India is expected to be the largest by 2030.
However, the question is, are Indian airlines and more importantly the airports capable of handling the surging traffic efficiently? If you were to ask a random person this they would answer ‘No’ without even a seconds delay (no pun intended).
Let’s look at data released by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the year 2017 (until August), one-fourth of all the flights ran late and almost 5 percent of the flights got cancelled. About 24 percent of the flights run by Indian domestic carriers are never on time. Among the first eight months of 2017, the worst was January with only 62 percent of the flights being on time, expectedly, as flights get delayed due to low visibility especially on North Indian airports.
In first eight months, airlines have already spent Rs 34 Cr towards compensation and facilities. Carriers paid Rs 22.7 Cr to compensate the passengers which were denied boarding, translating into an average of Rs 13.66 thousand per passenger. Airlines also incurred expenses of Rs 4.15 Cr towards facilities and compensation for passengers whose flights got cancelled and Rs 7.13 Cr towards passengers whose flights got delayed by more than two hours.
Keeping aside the weather conditions and unpredictable difficulties what else could be the reason behind such a poor performance and such delays? What most people miss is the very integral part our airports play in this. First of all lets face it there not nearly enough airports as required. People can not expect to just easily board flights in their small towns and cities. They have to travel to some metro or other major city to do that. People who reside in these cities have to travel an hour via some vehicle to reach a dimly lit poorly managed airport on the outskirts of the city.
Now after traveling an for an hour a person reaches he has to reach the airport at least 2 hours before the flight because they will have to spend it confronting all the formalities with untrained professionals. After accomplishing all of this the poor flyer will then have face delays, cancellations for which most likely there shall be no refunds because nobody will be held responsible.
If by some miracle the flyer does not face any of this there is sure to be a delay in flight take off and then flight landing because once again the staff that handles this is not either not trained well enough or lacks proper equipment to do so. There have been times when passengers had to sleep in the waiting area because of issues faced by lacking airport authorities.
For example over 250 passengers were left stranded at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport after a Mumbai-Ahmedabad Air India flight on December 2, 2017 was delayed for over 7 hours. Passengers raised protest & alleged they were not given food or accommodation. Unfortunately this is not something new, in July of 2016, GoAir reported on-time performance below 50 percent for flights from Mumbai airport. This means at least every second flight (sometimes more) of the airline from Mumbai was delayed during the month.
So the question arises, what exactly can a flyer do when faced with such overwhelming atrocities but plead with no result to the authorities to better handle their protocols and
procedures. The airports along with authorities running this massive industry in India need to start working towards providing better services or else passengers, as well as the airlines, will keep bleeding money and, above all else, precious time. So all the Indian airlines and more importantly airport authorities who take the travellers and tourists of the nation lightly need to buckle up lest they wish to find an end to their businesses.
References and Sources
An article is written by Ayush Agarwal, a student of UPES
An article is written by Shubham Raj