Boeing pull-out: SpiceJet rejigs schedule

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Deploys Q400 on routes with lesser demand, to press wet lease aircraft in service

SpiceJet, which has been hit by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has chalked out a contingency plan to ensure minimum impact on its day-to-day operations and the summer schedule from April.

The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 will have a direct impact on SpiceJet’s plans for new international flights in the summer schedule to Guangzhou, Istanbul, Moscow and some other destinations in Central Asia that were being drawn up.

The current winter schedule will end on March 30. On Thursday, the airline cancelled about 32 flights.

As an immediate fallout, the airline has been forced to cut flights on 12 international sectors.

On how SpiceJet managed to bring down the cancellations, senior airline officials said, “We focussed on optimum use of our existing fleet of 64 planes. Some Boeing 737 Next Generation or NGs and the Bombardier Q400 turbo-props were under-utilised. [We] have optimised their use. Many additional frequencies are now being operated by these planes, thus minimising the impact of the cancellations.”

Delhi-Kabul service

The airline has cancelled its Delhi-Kabul service because of Pakistan’s airspace closure. “That aircraft — a 737 NG — is now deployed full time for domestic operations. Some low-yield, off-season international flights like Ahmedabad-Muscat have been withdrawn and the aircraft is instead being used to do multiple domestic flights,” an official said.

Airline officials also revealed that from Saturday, two aircraft on wet lease would be pressed into service. “Two wet lease planes, as announced in the aviation ministry briefing yesterday, were inducted in a matter of two days. They will help in bringing down the cancellations,” the official said.

A look at SpiceJet’s network on Thursday showed that it had been rejigged. “On routes with lesser demand, 78-seater Q400 had been deployed and NGs withdrawn and put on alternate sectors. Flights have been clubbed. If we had four flights in a day on a given sector, then one [flight] has been withdrawn and passengers have been adjusted on the other three,” another official explained.

The airline has also set up a war room created with core middle management.

A SpiceJet spokesperson said that the airline was working with the regulator and manufacturer to attain normalcy in operations.

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