The grounding of 11 Airbus 320neo planes has forced no-frills carriers IndiGo and GoAir to cancel almost 65 fights, resulting in travel fares rising by over 10 percent on several sectors. India's largest airline by market share said the flights that have been cancelled on March 14 were bound for Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Jaipur, Srinagar, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Delhi, Dehradun, Amritsar, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, among others.
"IndiGo has cancelled certain flights due to the grounding of our aircraft further to the DGCA directions which has been issued in the interest of safety", the airline said. "To minimise the inconvenience of our customers, our teams swiftly re-accommodated the passengers on alternate flights and fully refunded the fares to any customer who preferred that", a statement issued by Indigo airline read. There are 43 such engines in the worldwide, out of which 19 are now in India, used by IndiGo and GoAir. GoAir cancelled 18 flights originating from over eight cities.
Commenting on the DGCA order, the newly-appointed Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said, "This is only for passenger safety and airlines have also responded positively". Of these, IndiGo has 33 and GoAir 12 planes.
The decision comes hours after an A320 neo aircraft of IndiGo suffered engine failure mid-air and made an emergency landing at Ahmedabad airport.
"With current load factors at over 90%, this reduction in capacity is likely to have a 5-10% impact on fares on key routes in the short to medium term", Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C) at travel portal Yatra.com told Financial Express. The ongoing problems with the engines raise concerns regarding passenger safety in Indian skies.
The DGCA grounded the Airbus neos fitted with "PW1100 engines" with engine serial numbers 450 and asked both IndiGo and GoAir to not refit these engines with spare parts in their inventory.
Now, a total of 14 such A320 neo planes - 11 operated by IndiGo and 3 by GoAir - have been grounded.