Alternatives to cancelled flights are costlier.
Bangalore, April 9, 2019: Facing a financial turmoil, debt-ridden Jet Airways cancelled more than 300 flights in February and March. Lessors have grounded its planes, leaving thousands of flyers fuming.
Jet plans to withdraw 138 daily flights between March and October 2019, information on the airline’s website says.
Frequent flyers who had made advance bookings with the carrier have had to cancel their tickets. They now face the prospect of buying costly tickets.
Abhishek Dwivedi, a technical consultant with Hugo Boss Ticino SA in Bengaluru who flies frequently on domestic routes, informed The Observer: “Flight cancellations have forced me to change my plans till the end of April. I had two tickets from Jet Airways which I had to reschedule. Ticket prices are still high, and there are very few seats left.”
Jet has announced the cancellation of 209 to and fro flights between Mumbai and London. A like number of flights have been cancelled from Bengaluru to Thiruvananthapuram.
Dilip Kumar Das, country manager, north region, for a multinational company in New Delhi, said: “I travel frequently to North, East and Central India. Frequent cancellations by Jet and IndiGo have caused a lot of problems in creating an itinerary. Even the price of tickets has gone up across airlines due to Jet’s reduced fleet.”
“Although Jet has announced flight cancellations till October, it remains to be seen if it can survive. It recently defaulted on payments to its lenders according to news reports, which might force the airline to ground its own aeroplanes. It has already grounded most of its leased flights,” Das added.
Mumbai, one of the regional hubs of Jet, has seen the cancellation of 1,016 flights to 56 destinations, while Delhi has had 201 cancellations.
Some frequent flyers complain that the cancellations and rescheduling has forced them to miss out on important events. Others say fares for other airlines are higher than normal.
Ashok Tiwari, who works as a principal in Lucknow, said: “After deductions, you get back only 40% of the ticket price which is not fair to the passengers. Ticket prices on other airlines are also high. The government should step in and try to control the prices of tickets.”
Rubal Malik, a state-level badminton player from Delhi, said: “I participate in at least one tournament in two months and frequently book flight tickets. This time around, I have seen the price increase by around 20-40 % for certain days and weeks. Sometimes the sponsors pay for my tickets; on others, I have to pay.”
Making alternative arrangements to travel is not easy, say passengers.
Uday Prakash, an IT professional working in Bengaluru, said: “Summer vacations are coming up and I need to buy tickets to go to Delhi, but the prices of tickets to Delhi are around 20-30% more than last year’s prices. I’ll wait for a few more days to see if prices go down. If they don’t, I’ll either cancel my vacation or buy the tickets at increased prices.”
The airline is looking for new investors to invest in it. Moneycontrol.com quoted a senior Jet executive as saying: “Many of the cancelled flights have been re-routed over hubs, and many can still go back to the system.” The cancellations are not linked to the grounding of aircraft, he claimed.