India's aviation minister eyes talks over grounding of Jet Airways planes

Suresh Prabhu calls for emergency meeting to discuss situation surrrounding Etihad-backed airline
India's aviation minister eyes talks over grounding of Jet Airways planes
By James Mathew
Tue 19 Mar 2019 03:02 PM

India’s civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday asked the aviation ministry secretary to hold an emergency meeting on grounding of flights by Jet Airways, its advance bookings, flight cancellations, refunds and safety issues.

“Asked Ministry Secretary to hold an emergency meeting on the grounding of flights by Jet Airways, and advance bookings, cancellation, refund and safety issues,” the minister said in a tweet.

“Asked him (the Secretary) to get a report on Jet compliance issues immediately from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA),” the minister said in another Twitter post.

The minister’s action came after a large number of air passengers took to Twitter to vent their anger against repeated cancellations of their flights by Jet Airways, as also problems being faced in getting refunds from the airline.

Passengers who faced problems after booking tickets on Jet flights also raised questions about whether the cash-strapped Jet Airways should be allowed to accept advance bookings amid flight cancellations.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is a minority partner with a 24 percent stake in the Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways.

Sources in the federal aviation ministry said the aviation regulator DGCA was also keeping a close watch on air fares to detect any unusual surge in the aftermath of large-scale cancellation of flights by carriers such as Jet Airways and IndiGo.

SpiceJet, another Indian private carrier, also cancelled few flights recently when DGCA asked airlines last week to ground Boeing 737 MAX planes.

Reacting to concerns raised on safety issues of Jet's planes, Jet Airways Maintenance Engineers Association said the airline's aircrafts are safe to fly and are being maintained at the highest levels of safety standards.

"We have an impressive TDR (technical dispatch reliability) of 99.5 percent, one of the highest in the industry," Amit Kelkar, vice president, Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association, said on Tuesday.

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