Published: 06th July 2022
#WhattheFAQ: With seven glitches in seventeen days, what is going on with SpiceJet?
The airline company had a rough day on Tuesday, July 5 with two of its flights making emergency landings after reporting glitches. But is this the first time this is happening?
A SpiceJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft that was on its way to Dubai from Delhi with 150 people on board, conducted an emergency landing in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday, July 5 after pilots noticed an unusual fuel reduction in one of the plane’s fuel tanks. Not just this, another SpiceJet aircraft, that was flying from Kandla in Gujarat on the same day, developed a crack in one of its outer windshields, following which they had to make a priority landing in Mumbai. Additionally, another SpiceJet cargo plane that was flying to China returned to Kolkata yesterday, July 5 after weather radar failure.
With similar incidents happening in the past as well, is there a turbulent road ahead for the airline? Let’s find out.
How many malfunctions have been reported by SpiceJet in the past?
Not one, or two or three but seven malfunctions have been reported by the airline only in the last seventeen days. On June 19, a Delhi-bound Boeing 737-800 had to make an emergency landing in Patna, a few minutes after take-off, after one of its engines suffered a bird hit. Additionally, the fuselage warning light lit up on a SpiceJet Q400 aircraft (Guwahati-Kolkata) when it was on ‘rotation’. The crew had to abandon the journey. In a much more serious incident in May, three passengers of a SpiceJet flight (Mumbai-Durgapur) were hospitalised, and two of them were in the ICU, after severe turbulence hit the flight during its descent phase.
How has the airline fared so far?
Reports have suggested that the losses incurred by the airline have tripled since 2019. While the airline was struggling for two years even before the pandemic as well, the last five quarters have proven to be a difficult phase which has resulted in a default of around $20 million, as aviation was one of the worst hit sectors during the COVID pandemic. To make matters worse, SpiceJet had also restricted 90 of its pilots from flying the 737 MAX aircraft in June 2022 after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) imposed a Rs 10 lakh fine on the airline for training 737 Max aircraft pilots on a faulty simulator.
Why did the Madras High Court order a winding up on the airline?
In an ultimate blow to the company, the Madras HC in December 2021 had ordered to wind up the carrier after a plea was filed by a Swiss company Credit Suisse AG over unpaid dues. The petitioner claimed that they had made several requests to the airline to make payments under various invoices but the airline did not honour the commitments. The Supreme Court stayed the matter for three weeks after the airline claimed that it is looking to settle the dispute over its outstanding dues with the Swiss company.
What has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation sector?
Reports have pointed out that the Indian airlines and airports have incurred an estimated loss of Rs 19,564 crore and Rs 5,116 crore, respectively, in 2020-21 due to travel disruptions caused by the pandemic. In fact, domestic air passenger traffic declined by only 0.3% in 2019-20 but by 61.7% in 2021. Additionally, several airlines including Air India and SpiceJet have outstanding dues of Rs 2,350 crore and Rs 185 crore respectively to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) as of September 2021.