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DGCA asks SpiceJet not to take bookings beyond a month

Concerned about the failing financial and operational performance of Kalanithi Maran-promoted no-frills carrier SpiceJet, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) today directed the airline not to take bookings for any flight beyond a month.

The regulator has directed the airline not to accept bookings for cancelled flights and refund all affected passengers in a month’s time. “Till now they have been accepting bookings for even cancelled flights. We have instructed them not to do We have told them to make refunds within a month to all affected passengers”, said a senior official in the DGCA.

Further, taking stern action against large-scale flight cancellations being made by the airline over the last few weeks, the DGCA has withdrawn 100 flight slots of the budget carrier. SpiceJet has reduced its Boeing 737 fleet to 24 aircraft from 37 last year. The sharp reduction in the number of operational aircraft has forced the airline to decrease its daily flights by about a fifth to 275. SpiceJet was operating around 340 flights a day in July 2014.The airline has pulled out of cities such as Surat and Lucknow. The number of daily cancellations currently range between50 and 60 per day, according to sources.

The DGCA has instructed SpiceJet to submit a report detailing the numbers of passengers affected on account of flight cancellations and the refunds being made subsequently on a daily basis.

SpiceJet has outstanding dues of around Rs 1600 crore to vendors and suppliers. Concerned about the precarious financial position of the carrier, the regulator has asked SpiceJet to disperse salary payments for November by 15 December. The official informed, “We have asked them to pay salaries bu 15 Decmber for November. From January onwards, they have been asked to make payments within seventh of each month.”

DGCA has also constituted a team to place SpiceJet aircraft under heightened surveillance. The team will inspect aircraft flown by SpiceJet on a daily basis. They will examine if the aircraft are being properly maintained.

As many as 115 commanders have resigned from the airline recently. “We will keep a strict watch on the airline. We will ensure that pilots still working with the airline are not made to fly more than the hours specified in the flight-duty limitation (FDTL) norms due to shortage of commanders”, informed a top source in DGCA.

SpiceJet has been asked to submit the first compliance report on Moday, December 8. 2014.

Timeline:

  • Nov 14: SpiceJet posts a Rs 310 crore second quarter loss, fifth consecutive quarterly loss.
  • Nov 16: 40 pilots quit the airline
  • Nov 18: SpiceJet scales down its Boeing 737 fleet from 38 to 28, cancels 40 flights.
                 : Chief operating officer Sanjiv Kapoor says airline is close to finalise investor and will restore schedule by December.
  • Nov 28: Ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala picks up 1.4 percent stake in SpiceJet raising hopes of  recapitalisation
  • Nov 30: Airline delays staff salaries by 1-3 days
  • Dec 03: Airport Authority of India (AAI) issues letter putting SpiceJet on cash and carry mode. The airline denies AAI action.
  • Dec 04: Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajpathi Raju says SpiceJet is giving him heart attacks
  • Dec 05: DGCA acts against airline, withdraws 186 slots, directs it not to book beyond a month                

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