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DGCA extends 50 pc cap on SpiceJet’s flights till Oct 29

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday extended the 50 per cent restriction on SpiceJet flights till October 29.

“Based on the review of the safety performance of Spicejet, the authority issued Interim Order of even number dated 27 July 2022 whereby restricting the number of departures of Spicejet to 50% of the number of departures approved under Summer Schedule 2022 for a period of eight weeks,” DGCA said in its order. Whereas the review has indicated that there is an appreciable reduction in the number of safety incidents, it said.

“However, as a matter of abundant caution, the competent authority has decided that the restriction as imposed on July 27 this year shall continue to be in force till the end of the summer schedule on September 29, in accordance with the powers conferred under rule 19A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937,” it further read.

DGCA said any increase in the number of departures beyond 50 per cent as approved during this period, will be subject to the airline demonstrating to the satisfaction of DGCA that it has sufficient technical support and financial resources to safely and efficiently undertake such enhanced capacity. During this period, the airline shall be subject to “Enhanced surveillance” by DGCA, it reads.

Earlier on July 27, reviewing the reply of Spicejet on show cause notice, the DGCA had restricted the airline to operating only 50 per cent of flights for eight weeks.

In a letter to Spicejet, the Joint Director General of Civil Aviation mentioned that the reported incidents on aircraft operated by Spicejet from 1st April to 5th July 2022 were reviewed and it was observed that on a number of occasions, the aircraft either turned back to its originating station or continued landing to the destination with degraded safety margins. There is poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions, which have resulted in the degradation of the safety margins.

Reacting to DGCA restriction, SpiceJet had stated, “We are in receipt of the DGCA order and will act as per directions of the regulator. Due to the current lean travel season, SpiceJet like other airlines had already rescheduled its flight operations. Hence, there will be absolutely no impact on our flight operations.”

The airline had further added, “We want to reassure our passengers and travel partners that our flights will operate as per schedule in the coming days and weeks. There will be no flight cancellation as a consequence of this order. DGCA’s observation that SpiceJet is taking measures for arresting the trend of incidents is very encouraging and we will continue to work under the close guidance of the regulator.”

A financial assessment carried out by DGCA in September 2021 had revealed that Spicejet was operating on cash and approved vendors were not being paid on a regular basis leading to the shortage of spares and frequent invoking of Minimum Equipment Lists (MELS).

Whereas from the above, it was deduced that Spicejet failed to establish a safe, efficient and reliable air transport service under the terms of rule 134 read with Schedule XI of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 and accordingly, a show cause notice was issued on July 5, 2022, to the Accountable Manager of M/s Spicejet Ltd to explain within three weeks of receipt of the notice as to why action should not be taken against the airline.

“On July 25, Spicejet submitted a reply to the show cause notice. The same has been reviewed at an appropriate level and it has been observed that Spicejet is taking measures for arresting the trend of incidents, however, the airline needs to sustain these efforts for safe and reliable air transport service,” the letter had read.

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