Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

7 in 10 fliers have faced flight cancellations and rescheduling in the past one year: Report

Indians have been facing a lot of trouble with flights with many incidents reported in the recent past. According to a recent report by LocalCircles, citizens are concerned and want the government to take control of the situation

Samidha Jain
Published: Jan 19, 2024 02:17:12 PM IST
Updated: Jan 19, 2024 02:28:35 PM IST

7 in 10 fliers have faced flight cancellations and rescheduling in the past one year: ReportThere have multiple reports of flight delays and cancellations due to bad weather conditions and internal reasons. Image: Arun SANKAR / AFP

The past few months have been a rocky road for airlines in India. Multiple incidents or flight cancellations, rescheduling, and inconvenience to passengers have been reported. So much so that, recently, frustrated by flight delays, a flier in Delhi assaulted the captain of an IndiGo flight, while passengers were seen having meals on the tarmac in Mumbai.

A recent survey conducted by LocalCircles, a social media platform and pollster focusing on governance, public and consumer interest issues, highlights that 7 in 10 fliers surveyed say that they have had a cancelled or rescheduled flight once or more this year by the airline due to internal operational reasons. The report further says that some airlines are still not following the practice of keeping fliers informed about all delays, reschedules and cancellations, which is leading to significant inconvenience for them.

At the beginning of the year, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation urged airline operators and representatives to address passenger concerns arising from numerous complaints regarding flight cancellations and delays attributed to factors such as fog and operational issues. In December 2023, the government issued guidelines specifying compensation for air passengers affected by flight cancellations and delays. Furthermore, Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia reportedly convened a meeting with airline operators, their representatives, and senior officials, during which strict adherence to the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) regarding flight cancellations, delays, and refund policies was emphasised. Despite these initiatives, it appears that the efforts were ineffective, as numerous travellers at various airports, particularly in northern states, reportedly experienced significant inconvenience due to flight delays or cancellations with limited prior notification about the status.

Based on the survey that received 23,000 responses from air passengers across 300+ districts in the country, numerous passengers claim that airlines exploited last week's fog-related conditions to camouflage delays caused by their internal issues, such as crew and aircraft availability problems. Many passengers are highlighting the discrepancy in airline practices, pointing out instances where airlines refuse boarding to passengers arriving just a few minutes late at the check-in counter, requiring them to pay the fare difference for the next flight. At the same time, there is a noted absence of penalties when the airline cancels or reschedules a flight due to internal issues.

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As a penalty, 9 in 10 fliers want the government to mandate airlines to pay at least 25-50 percent value of ticket to them if they reschedule or cancel flights due to low load factor or internal reasons.

In conclusion, the report emphasises the necessity for regulators to intervene and implement suitable penalties for airlines in these situations. Such measures could compel airlines to enhance their preparedness with adequate resources, ultimately reducing delays caused by internal factors. This is anticipated to enhance the overall on-time performance of the aviation ecosystem and subsequently elevate the satisfaction levels of air passengers in India.