HC refuses to ground Indigo's entire A320neo fleet, but services hit
16 March 2018
The Delhi High Court today refused to ground IndiGo's entire fleet of A320neo aircraft over possible engine defects.
This came even as IndiGo and GoAir announced cancellation of close to 630 domestic flights this month as per the curtailed schedule the airlines submitted to the DGCA on Thursday.
Indigo has announced the cancellation of 488 flights, while Go Air will cancel 138 flights. The list of cancelled flights has been put up by the airlines on their respective websites. Both airlines have said that choice of alternative flights and refund would be offered to passengers.
Advocate Yeshwanth Shenoy said in his plea that IndiGo's entire A320neo fleet should be grounded until the manufacturers give in writing that the existing defects have been rectified and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is satisfied.
"Your (petitioner) first prayer seeking direction to DGCA to ground the entire fleet of Airbus A320neo cannot be granted," a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said.
It said Shenoy's plea seeking various other directions to the authorities, including an order to ensure that all accidents are published on DGCA's website within 24 hours of occurrence, will be heard on 20 March.
The DGCA had on 12 March ordered IndiGo and GoAir to immediately ground 11 A320neo planes powered with a certain series of Pratt & Whitney engines after three incidents of mid-air engine failures in less than a month.
Concerns over the safety of such planes increased with another engine failure, forcing an emergency landing of an IndiGo flight at Ahmedabad airport on 12 March.
A total of 14 A320 neo aircraft fitted with a specific series of engines — 11 operated by IndiGo and three by GoAir — have now been grounded. Three IndiGo planes are already on the ground following the problem.
Going by the passenger load factor recorded for both these airlines in January (90 per cent), the cancellations would hit an estimated 1 lakh passengers. The impact of cancellations is expected to be more severe next month when the airline summer schedule begins.
April marks the start of the peak travel season and with a fall in supply, air fares are expected to go up. Both airlines together operate about 1,200 flights daily and fly close to 50 per cent of domestic passengers.
IndiGo’s cancellations include 36 daily flights between 15 and 21 March; 18 between 22 March and 24 March and 16 between 25 March and 31 March. GoAir has cancelled seven daily flights to 10 destinations between 16 and 24 March, and six services per week between 15 March and 22 March.