IndiGo cabin crew on mass leave on day of AI walk-ins, 55% of flights hit – Times of India

NEW DELHI: IndiGo Airlines, which operates 1,600 domestic and international flights daily, saw nearly 55% of its services delayed on Saturday as scores of crew members did not show up on a day when Air India was conducting walk-in interviews in several cities.
Many of the crew members, who opted for sick leave, are said to have lined up for the Tata Group-owned carrier’s interviews in metros such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. As a result, pilots inside many IndiGo planes and passengers at terminals kept waiting for their Saturday flights to take off and a few flights had to be cancelled, said sources.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has sought a report from India’s largest airline (by passenger carriage) — that over the years built a reputation for punctuality — on the sudden and sharp dip. Comments from IndiGo were sought and awaited till the time of going to press.
During the last few months, crew discontent has been brewing in IndiGo — India’s only profitable airline before the pandemic struck — over continued pandemic-time pay cuts. It started with pilots planning mass leaves and IndiGo suspending some of them this April for violating “terms of employment and company’s code of conduct.” Now it remains to be seen if the management cracks the whip on cabin crew too.
Freshers and aviation sector employees/ex-staffers have an option now as the Tata Group — in a major expansion mode for its airlines led by AI — and startup Akasa are hiring majorly. Ever since its return to founder Tata fold, AI walk-ins are attracting thousands of applicants. Some airlines, including IndiGo, have requested AI not to hire their crew members without a no objection from them to stem an exodus that could affect their operations.
Government data shows only 45% of IndiGo flights operated on time (within 15 minutes of scheduled departure time) Saturday when the overall number of flights (across airlines) was 2,591 domestic and 456 international destinations. The on-time performance of different airlines Saturday was: AirAsia India at 98.3%, GoFirst 88%, Vistara 86.3%, SpiceJet 80.4% and Air India 77.1%. IndiGo was at the bottom at 45.2%, possibly its worst ever figure.
According to DGCA data, IndiGo accounted for nearly 58 of every 100 domestic flyers last month. On July 2, almost 3.3 lakh people flew within the country. Using this ratio, nearly 1.9 lakh people were to have flown IndiGo domestic on Saturday. A very rough estimations shows that less than 1,000 flights could have been delayed on Saturday, affecting well over a lakh flyers — both domestic and international.
To be sure, the post-Omicron revival in domestic traffic has now been sharply hit by surging jet fuel prices that forced airlines to raise airfares in past few weeks.

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