To be sure, this does not mean this summer will see less flights than last summer. The reason: Airlines like SpiceJet (due to financial crunch) and GoAir (due to grounded planes) did not operate close to their approved schedule. The approved schedule means that an airline can operate upto the approved number of many flights. How many it actually operates depends on factors like demand and the financial ability to mount flights.
India has been seeing a surge in domestic air travel since late last year. March, a traditionally weak travel month, has seen an unprecedented 4.4 lakh daily domestic flyers several times this year. The summer travel season starts in April and lasts till June. This year there are all indications of a bumper summer for the travel industry and airlines with airworthy fleet and funds will be operating closer to their approved schedule.
The schedule approved takes into account the large number of of IndiGo and GoAir aircraft grounded for months due to Pratt & Whitney’s inability to supply engines or spares. While IndiGo’s 11,465 weekly domestic flights for this summer are 13.7% more than ongoing winter’s figure of 10,085, it is almost only marginally more than last summer’s 11,130. Tata Group carriers’ (Air India, Vistara and AirAsia India) combined approved schedule is for 5,490 this summer — more than ongoing winter’s 5,394 but less than last summer’s 5,798.
SpiceJet’s approved schedule is for this summer is 2,240, compared to ongoing winter’s 3,193 and last summer’s 4,192. The low cost carrier’s schedule was truncated by DGCA last year due to a financial crunch being faced by the airline. While the capacity constraints were lifted last winter, the airline’s hunt for funds has so far been futile.
GoAir’s has got an approval for 1,538 this summer, 10% more than 1,390 in ongoing winter and 40% less than last summer’s 2,557. The low cost carrier has dozens of Airbus on ground due to Pratt & Whitney issues.
“…22,907 departures per week have been finalised to/from 110 airports (for) summer schedule 2023 compared to 21,941 departures per week from 106 airports in winter schedule 2022. Out of these 110 airports, Jeypore, Cooch Behar, Hollongi, Jamshedpur, Pakyong and Mopa (Goa) are the new airports proposed by the scheduled airlines whereas operations from Ziro and Hindon airport are not proposed in the summer schedule 2023,” said a senior DGCA official.