The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said on September 21 that it is extending domestic budget carrier SpiceJet's suspension to operate at 50 percent capacity till October 29.
In its order dated September 21, the aviation regulator said that it is extending the restriction imposed on the budget carrier as a cautionary measure. In the meantime, SpiceJet shall be under "enhanced surveillance" by the DGCA.
If SpiceJet wants to operate more than 50 percent of its fleet then it will have to prove to the DGCA that it has adequate technical support and financial resources to increase its capacity, the regulatory body added.
The statement issued by the DGCA read: "Any increase in the number of departures beyond 50% of the total number of departures approved under the Summer Schedule 2022, during this period, shall be subject to the airline demonstrating to the satisfaction of DGCA that it has sufficient technical support and financial resource to safely and efficiently undertake such enhanced capacity."
The DGCA announcement came a day after SpiceJet decided to send 80 pilots on leave without pay for three months to cut costs. The airline has claimed that despite several pilots being sent on leave without pay, it would have sufficient capacity to operate its full schedule as and when the DGCA restriction on flights is lifted.
Sources have revealed that the airline was expecting the DGCA to extend the cap on its operating capacity and sent pilots on leave without pay as a pre-emptive measure.
"In a temporary measure to rationalise costs, SpiceJet has decided to place certain pilots on leave without pay for a period of three months. This measure, which is in line with SpiceJet’s policy of not retrenching any employee which the airline steadfastly followed even during the peak of the Covid pandemic, will help rationalise the pilot strength vis-a-vis the aircraft fleet," the airline said.
The civil aviation regulator had on July 27 issued an order putting a cap on SpiceJet’s capacity based on the review of the safety performance of the airline. Under the order, the number of departures were restricted to 50 percent of the number approved under Summer Schedule 2022 for a period of eight weeks.
The DGCA had also issued a warning notice to the airline after reviewing a series of incidents that showed “poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions” by SpiceJet.