Increasing flight cancellations at Jet Airways have prompted Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) to demand that the airline be barred from any advance bookings, according to a report by The Economic Times.
The cash-strapped Jet has cancelled flights to several international and domestic destinations including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Dammam, Kochi and Nagpur.
Jet Airways will be operating merely 45 planes from March 19 as it has grounded close to 64 percent of its 124-strong fleet as of December, sources told the paper. This has affected its operations in various routes including Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad.
"Jet Airways usually accounted for 12-15 percent of our total sales. Now, it's come down to 2-5 percent," an executive at a travel portal told the newspaper.
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Owing to the inconvenience caused to passengers due to these groundings, Industry watchers and experts said the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) should stop advance bookings. "Jet shouldn't be allowed to do the advance booking with fancy offers when a situation is going from bad to worse," D Sudhakara Reddy, President, APAI, tweeted.
"Past experience shows gullible passengers lost hundreds of crores when Paramount, Kingfisher and SpiceJet collected money in the name of advance booking. When schedules were disrupted or aircraft grounded, passengers lost all their monies," he added.
South Indian carrier Paramount Airways, which started flying in 2005, folded in 2010, while Kingfisher Airlines, founded by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, started in 2005 and shut down in 2012. SpiceJet was on the brink of getting shut in 2014 but managed a turnaround.
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According to the report, daily Delhi-Mumbai flights have been increased to 18 from 15 earlier, even as other departures have been decreased, a source told the newspaper.
Industry experts, however, are of the view that DGCA's move to bar Jet's advance bookings may worsen the situation for the crisis-hit airline.
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"While DGCA has to take a call to protect passengers and their money, barring Jet from making advance bookings would hasten its demise. We have already seen a huge spurt in fares that would worsen. It would be a nightmare," the travel company executive added.