IndiGo, GoAir cancel 48 flights again over grounding of planes

Budget carrier IndiGo again cancelled domestic flights after aviation regulator DGCA grounded 11 A320neo aircraft fitted with a certain series of Pratt & Whitney engines.

IndiGo, India's largest airline with a market share of 40 per cent, the flights that were cancelled on Wednesday 14 March were bound for Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Jaipur, Srinagar, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Delhi, Dehradun, Amritsar, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, among others.

The Wadia Group-promoted low-cost carrier GoAir, which has a 10-per cent market share and operates around 230 flights daily, also cancelled six flights due to the grounding of three of its A320neo planes.

The grounding came hours after an A320 neo IndiGo flight to Lucknow suffered mid-air engine failure forcing it to make an emergency landing at Ahmedabad airport.

GoAir announced on its website that it would cancel 18 flights, including 8 daily ones, from 15 March to 24 March including flights from Cochin, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar and Kolkata.

According to commentators, the aviation sector in the country may remain affected with IndiGo and GoAir facing more disruptions in the coming weeks. The US-based aircraft engine maker had proposed a fix for the engine issues but the two low-cost airlines may have to wait till June to get the replacements.

The Airbus A320neo (new engine option) launched in December 2010, is one of the fastest-selling aircraft in history and as compared with the narrow-body jets from Airbus, A320neo is more efficient - consuming 15 per cent less fuel.

There are45 A320 Neo planes fitted with P&W engines with the two airlines with IndiGo accounting for 32 and  GoAir operating 13 planes. According to commentators, the cancellation of services has inconvenienced thousands of passengers as they had pre-booked flights over concerns of exorbitant fares which are charged by the carriers for last-minute travel.

But the carriers yesterday said they were taking measures to minimise inconvenience to the passengers whose flights have been cancelled by booking them on alternative flights and also offering them the option of cancelling or rescheduling their travel without any extra cost.

Last year, DGCA had ordered detailed inspection of 21 Airbus 320neo planes of IndiGo and GoAir that are equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines, which have been frequently facing technical glitches.

India's largest airline IndiGo, has had to replace Pratt & Whitney engines on its 32 A320 Neo aircraft at least 69 times in the period May 2016-November 2017.

In February European plane maker Airbus SE warned of new problems with the Pratt & Whitney engines on its A320neo planes, prompting European air safety officials to issue emergency restrictions (See: Airbus warns of new Pratt & Whitney engine problem).