Home Business DGCA asks Vistara to provide information about flight cancellations, delays | News

DGCA asks Vistara to provide information about flight cancellations, delays | News

DGCA asks Vistara to provide information about flight cancellations, delays | News

About 15 pilots have resigned from the airline in recent months | Photo: PTI

Full-service carrier Vistara on Tuesday cancelled over 50 flights due to crew shortage, leaving scores of fliers stranded and prompting the aviation regulator to intervene and ask for details on the number of flights that are being cancelled and delayed. The airline, which is jointly owned by Singapore Airlines and Tata Group, had called off 50 flights on Monday primarily due to pilots calling in sick to protest the new salary structure as a part of Vistara’s merger into Air India, according to sources.

Vistara usually operates about 350 flights every day. 

The DGCA on Tuesday said, “In view of the various flight disruptions of Vistara due to various reasons including crew unavailability, DGCA has asked the airline to submit daily information and details on the flights that are being cancelled and delayed.”

The regulator has asked the airline to ensure that Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) are being followed. CAR deals with facilities that must be provided to passengers who have been affected due to denied boarding, cancellations or delays in flights. The affected passengers must be provided advance information, an option of refund, compensation if applicable, DGCA said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) too has expressed concern.

It said, “MoCA 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.” Pilots of Vistara are facing multiple other issues. Two Vistara pilots told Business Standard about the  highly demanding roster.

“Some pilots are not getting adequate rest while there are other pilots who are on ground and not being utilised properly. There are issues with how the roster is being prepared,” one of them said.

According to pilots, about 12-15 senior first officers resigned from the airline during the last few months. These were narrow body A320 aircraft pilots who had completed their conversion training, which allowed them to fly wide-body B787 aircraft. These pilots allegedly did not get a chance to fly B787 aircraft. Therefore, they decided to resign and join a rival airline. Vistara did not respond to Business Standard’s request for a statement on this matter.  This is not the first time that Vistara has been facing this amid pilot unrest.

In the first week of March, several pilots had reportedly gone on sick leave to protest the new salary structure offered to them.

On March 7, Vistara refuted media reports, attributing flight cancellations and delays to adverse weather, air traffic congestion, and unforeseen aircraft maintenance.

On March 15, Vistara instructed pilots who hadn’t accepted the new salary structure to comply by evening, warning of forfeiting a one-time payout and indicating disinterest in joining Air India.

As part of the new salary structure, Vistara pilots will receive a fixed salary for 40 hours of flying time instead of the current 70 hours. 

Additionally, they will be compensated for extra flying hours and will earn an additional amount as a reward based on their years of service with the airline.

The airline did not issue any statement on Tuesday by the time of filing of this report.

On Monday, the airline said, “We have had a significant number of flight cancellations and delays in the past few days due to various reasons including crew unavailability… 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 customers, wherever possible.”

The new salary structure  

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) gave its approval to the merger of Vistara and Air India earlier this month. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had approved the merger between the airlines in September 2023.

Vistara is anticipating an operational merger with Air India by mid-2025, in addition to its expectations of receiving legal approvals for it by the middle of the current calendar year, the full-service carrier’s CEO Vinod Kannan said at a press briefing in January.

First Published: Apr 02 2024 | 3:26 PM IST