Indian flyers are avoiding SpiceJet and other airlines over frequent safety scares

Safety concerns over India’s budget carrier SpiceJet have begun to worry flyers. Up to 44% of the domestic passengers are avoiding taking a Spicejet flight while 21% each are giving Air India and Indigo a pass due to this, a survey by social community platform LocalCircles showed.

“On an aggregate basis, 77% of the respondents admitted to being concerned about safety when they or their family was undertaking domestic air travel,” LocalCircles said.

The survey involved more than 45,000 responses from over 21,000 citizens across 302 districts of India. It was conducted on July 1-7.

The survey results come against the backdrop of at least eight mid-air incidents involving SpiceJet flights since May 1, during which passengers were put at risk.

But SpiceJet isn’t alone…

Other Indian carriers aren’t much better off on this front. On June 5 alone, three planes belonging to various airlines reported operational malfunctions.

While IndiGo and Vistara reported smoke and engine shut issues, respectively, a SpiceJet freighter plane suffered a technical snag leading to the cancellation of a flight to China.

Flyers are avoiding the newly privatised Air India, too, but more due to its longstanding reputation.

What could be causing such inefficiency among Indian carriers according to flyers? Respondents to the LocalCircle survey largely blamed poor finances.

The pandemic-triggered slump ate away a major chunk of earnings of these companies.

For instance, SpiceJet was one of India’s largest airlines in terms of passenger traffic but is now struggling to stay afloat. In fact, SpiceJet’s losses in the financial year 2022 more than tripled since 2019.

Due to this financial crisis, many of its suppliers have put SpiceJet in the cash-and-carry category — it can buy spare parts only on paying immediately.

Due to its inability to make instant payments, the airline has been flying with minimum equipment lists, allowing airlines to temporarily fly with some parts malfunctioning. This is subject to the Indian aviation regulator’s approval.

IndiGo faces a different challenge: a staff crunch causing frequent flight delays.

Another budget airline, Go First, is operating on 65% of its fleet due to low demand, alongside maintenance issues. The airline has parked 15 of its 57 aircraft in Delhi due to a shortage of engines.

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