• Saturday, April 20, 2024

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Why Tata-owned Vistara facing frequent flight disruptions

The Indian civil aviation ministry has urged the airline to furnish a comprehensive report about significant number of flight cancellations and delays experienced over the past week.

People gather around a Vistara Boeing 787-9 displayed at the Wings India 2020 international exhibition at Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad in India’s Telangana state. (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

VISTARA, a joint venture of Tata Sons Private Limited and Singapore Airlines Limited, is grappling with a crisis stemming from a shortage of crew, resulting in cancellations of numerous flights. Media reports suggest that the airline’s services have been severely disrupted due to pilots calling in sick collectively, protesting against the revised salary structure ahead of the carrier’s merger with Air India.

It’s reported that the revised structure entails reduced salary components alongside increased incentives linked to flying hours.

A representative from Vistara, a full-service airline in which Tata holds 51 per cent stake in partnership, verified the disruption in flight services, attributing crew unavailability as one of the contributing factors.

Read: Why India antitrust body is probing Air India, Vistara merger

“We have had a significant number of flight cancellations and delays in the past few days due to various reasons including crew unavailability. We acknowledge and are deeply concerned about the inconvenience this has caused to our customers,” the spokesperson said, according to a report by India Today.

Multiple media outlets have reported that on Tuesday (2) alone, a total of 38 flights have been cancelled, comprising 15 departures from Mumbai, 12 from Delhi, and 11 from Bengaluru. More Vistara flights from other major cities might also face cancellations as the airline struggles to address the pilot crisis.

India civil aviation ministry intervenes

Taking note of the escalating situation, India’s civil aviation ministry has also intervened. It has urged the airline to furnish a comprehensive report about the significant number of flight cancellations and delays experienced over the past week.

Long read: Tata to merge Air India and Vistara: How will it be done & what it means for India’s aviation industry

One official from the ministry said that over 100 Vistara flights have either been cancelled or delayed in the past seven days.

India civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia
India civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia (ANI Photo)

In an official statement, the ministry said it is “monitoring the situation of Vistara flight cancellations”.

“However, flight operations are managed by airlines themselves. Airlines have to comply with DGCA norms to ensure passenger facilitation in case of cancellation or delay of flights,” it added.

Asian News International reported citing informed sources that the interruption in Visatara’s flight operations has been caused by pilots refusing to fly extended hours.

Official sources in Vistara said the airline is trying to solve the matter so that its customers do not face inconvenience.

“Our teams are working towards minimising the discomfort to the customers. We have decided to temporarily reduce the number of flights we operate, to ensure adequate connectivity across our network. We have also deployed larger aircraft like our B787-9 Dreamliner and A321neo on select domestic routes to combine flights or accommodate more number of customers, wherever possible,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying in an India Today report.

The official also said that they were giving to the affected customers alternative flight options or refunds, whatever is applicable. He also apologised to the customers and said efforts were underway to stabilise the situation and resume interrupted services at the earliest.

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