Passengers rage over disruptions at India’s embattled Jet Airways

Author: 
Reuters
ID: 
1552636421591916900
Fri, 2019-03-15 06:30

NEW DELHI: India’s embattled Jet Airways put photographs of
smiling women employees on social media last week for Women’s
Day, using the tagline “Standing tall; touching the skies” but
few passengers reacted cheerfully.
“’Touching the skies’ is a good joke at a time when your
flights are getting grounded,” said a respondent on Twitter,
while others expressed anger and dismay at cancelations, delays in
refunds and long response times to telephone calls.
India’s second-largest carrier, grappling with debt of more than
$1 billion, Jet has delayed payments to banks, lessors, vendors and
staff. Lessors have grounded more than three dozen planes, forcing
hundreds of flights to be canceled.
Rising customer frustration could bring further disruption for the
25-year-old airline, as some flyers backed a boycott, while others
blamed cancelations for ruining their plans.
“We had to worry about rebooking flights during our wedding, when
there is already so much to do,” said Siddhant Agarwal, a
32-year-old businessman whose flight home from his honeymoon was
abruptly canceled just days before his marriage.
Agarwal, who is based in the capital, New Delhi, had to pay nearly
twice as much for new tickets, he said.
“They did not even offer an apology, which is disappointing and
unprofessional.”
The airline, partly owned by Etihad Airways, did not respond to a
request from Reuters for comment.
PLANES GROUNDED
Amid talks for a bailout led by state-run banks, lessors have
forced the airline to ground at least 37 planes over non-payment of
dues and some have also threatened repossession.
It had 556 flights on average in January, down from 641 a year
earlier, data from the aviation regulator showed.

For an interactive graphic on Jet’s average daily flights,
click https://tmsnrt.rs/2FeFDel
Jet has planned cancelations of more than 600 flights in March,
said one source with direct knowledge of the matter.
Monday’s tally of about 330 flights compared with a daily average
of nearly 650 in March 2018, a second source said, adding that
short notice about grounded planes triggered many unplanned
cancelations.
“The bigger worry is if people stop future bookings, because that
will affect cash flows,” said the source, adding that
cancelations in February and March outstripped prior months.
Jet Airways’ market share shrank to 14.3 percent in 2018 from
17.2 percent a year earlier, even as India’s aviation market grew
nearly a fifth.
Some of the hundreds of aggrieved passengers who posted on the
airline’s Facebook page and Twitter told of delays on the way to
wedding and festival celebrations, and several uploaded screenshots
showing telephone wait times longer than an hour for a response
from the customer call center.
After a last-minute cancelation, comedian Kenny Sebastian expressed
outrage on Twitter, warning his 1.74 million followers to avoid the
airline.
“Best part is they made it sound like it was the passengers’
fault,” he said this week.

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Source: FS – All-News-Economy
Passengers rage over disruptions at India’s embattled Jet Airways