Planes grounded, 65 flights axed

Budget carriers IndiGo and GoAir cancelled over five dozen flights on Tuesday, inconveniencing thousands of flyers, a day after aviation regulator DGCA grounded 11 of their A320neo aircraft fitted with a certain series of Pratt & Whitney engines following a mid-air scare.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 14.03.18
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New Delhi: Budget carriers IndiGo and GoAir cancelled over five dozen flights on Tuesday, inconveniencing thousands of flyers, a day after aviation regulator DGCA grounded 11 of their A320neo aircraft fitted with a certain series of Pratt & Whitney engines following a mid-air scare.

IndiGo cancelled 47 of its 1,000-odd flights per day, including 17 from Delhi airport and three from Mumbai.

The other cities from where the Gurgaon-based carrier has cancelled flights include Bangalore, Chennai, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Indore, Jammu, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Nagpur, Patna, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Coimbatore and Kochi.

GoAir operates 230 flights a day. On Tuesday it cancelled 18 originating from eight cities: Calcutta, Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow and Delhi.

While IndiGo accounts for about 40 per cent of domestic flyers, GoAir has a market share of around 10 per cent.

The directorate-general of civil aviation had on Monday decided to ground the 11 planes following a mid-air scare, when one of the engines of an IndiGo flight failed. Among the 11 aircraft that were grounded, IndiGo operated eight and GoAir three.

IndiGo said the affected passengers had been given the option to either choose another flight at no additional cost or cancel their booking and get a full refund without any cancellation charges.

"IndiGo has cancelled certain flights due to the grounding of our aircraft further to the DGCA directions which have been issued in the interest of safety," the airline said.

"We understand that this may cause inconvenience to some of our passengers, given that we have multiple flights to the same destination, we are proactively re-accommodating all our affected passengers on other flights," it added.

A GoAir spokesperson said "it has complied with the DGCA directive by grounding the late serial number PW GTF engines".

"This has resulted in the cancellation of some flights originating out of eight centres. GoAir prides itself on being committed to the highest standards of safety and compliance and we are working round the clock to alleviate the inconvenience caused to our valued customers," he said.

The spokesperson said flight schedules were "being altered to accommodate those affected" and in cases where appropriate, "free cancellation and rebooking options have been made available".

In its March 12 order, the DGCA said A320neos fitted with PW1100 engines beyond ESN 450 had been grounded with immediate effect.

Pratt & Whitney in a statement said "we are working closely with our customers to minimise disruption".

"The corrective action has been approved and we have already begun to deliver production engines with the upgraded configuration. We are working to mitigate the... situation by the end of the second quarter," it added.

The firm said the problem related to the knife edge seal in the high pressure compressor aft hub on the PW1100G-JM engine powering the A320neo. The issue affected a "a limited subpopulation of engines", it said, without elaborating.

In February, the European Aviation Safety Agency had raised a red flag about a particular series of P&W engines after several instances of engine in-flight shutdown and aborted take-offs were reported on certain Airbus A320neo family planes.

The EASA had asked airlines to restrict using engines of the same series in a single aircraft.