Whether it was men, machines or the business itself – it was a year of turbulence and disruption for airlines in the country. Bad news landed at the start of the year as US aviation watchdog Federal Aviation Authority and European Aviation Safety Agency issued emergency airworthiness directive for operators flying the Airbus A320neo single aisle aircraft powered by the Pratt & Whitney engine PW1100G warning of a in-flight shutdown and rejected take off on aircraft fitted with this engine type.
Stumped by the directives Indian operators, budget airlines IndiGo and GoAir were forced to ground a part of the fleet, reassess their expansion on this aircraft type, pay more for maintenance and still grappling with an unresolved problem. The machine scare continued into the later part of the year, this time with US aircraft manufacturer Boeing’s latest and upgraded 737 aircraft type-MAX, impacting full service carrier Jet Airways and SpiceJet both large customers of this aircraft type. Boeing issued a safety warning about the ‘angle of attack’ sensor post a fatal crash involving Indonesian carrier Lion Air killing all 189 passengers on board followed by directives issued by the Indian aviation watchdog to take corrective measures for a possible altitude loss manifestation.
Bleeding and distressed- words that best describe business performance of Indian carriers. Market leader IndiGo announced its first ever quarter loss after it listed on the stock exchanges in the year 2015 of Rs 652.1 crore, while Jet Airways reported losses of Rs 2,620.46 till the first half of FY18/19 to add to its accumulated losses of Rs10,772 crore. SpiceJet wasn’t able to buck the trend either. The Tata Group promoted airlines – budget carrier AirAsia India (AAI) and full service airline Vistara together put up a bad show with Rs 2,000 crore of accumulated losses and 2018 bled them further.
30/12/18 Manisha Singhal/Financial Express