By James Mathew
The Indian budget carrier also comes under renewed pressure from DGCA on replacement of trouble-prone Pratt &Whitney (P&W) engines fitted on its A320neos
India’s budget carrier IndiGo has sought to suspend its Dubai flights from the northern Indian city of Chandigarh during winter, as it looks to save on the costs of diversions and cancellations.
IndiGo officials said the airline has sought India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation's (DGCA) nod for temporary suspension of its services to Dubai from Chandigarh - from December 14 to February 15 - on account of weather-related operational issues.
A senior Air India Express official, however, told Arabian Business that the airline will continue to operate its Sharjah flights from Chandgarh during winter.
After the suspension of Indigo’s Dubai flights, Air India Express’ Sharjah flights will be the only international operations from Chandigarh, which has been facing serious flight operation issues during winter every year, leading to diversion of flights to nearby airports such as Delhi.
IndiGo’s move on temporary suspension of Dubai fights from Chandigarh is because the airport lacks infrastructure - mainly the advanced instrument landing system CAT-ILS III - which help pilots to land, irrespective of the weather conditions, or when the visibility drops to 200 metres.
Flights are not allowed to operate at Chandigarh airport if the visibility drops down to 1,600 meters, making it inconvenient to the passengers and causing heavy losses to flight operators.
IndiGo, meanwhile, has come under renewed pressure from DGCA on the trouble-prone Pratt &Whitney (P&W) engines fitted on its A320neos, with the regulator asking the airline to use every addition to its fleet to ground each A320neo plane that hasn’t had its Pratt & Whitney engines modified.
The DGCA move comes following a series of problems on the carrier’s jets, including in-flight shutdowns. The order essentially prevents IndiGo from adding new routes or increasing frequencies until the engine issues are fixed.
“Every new aircraft imported will have to replace a non LPT-3 modified existing aircraft (with faulty P&W engines),” the DGCA order has said.
“Further on, no leased unmodified engine can be imported with immediate effect,” DGCA told IndiGo.
Earlier, DGCA had set January 31 2020 as the deadline for replacement of all A320neos with modified engines.
Confirming the directive from DGCA, IndiGo said it was working with P&W and Airbus to adjust inflow of LPT-3 modified engines to meet the DGCA guidelines.
“Our current schedule remains intact,” the airline said in a statement issued after receiving the latest DGCA directive.
The engines manufactured by P&W have been facing issues since induction in 2016, with IndiGo facing 16 incidents of engine trouble – 4 in a single week – in the last 12-month period.
The airline will now have to slow down launching new routes, adding frequency as the new aircraft will be used to replace the grounded aircraft.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.