IndiGo grounds planes after engine issues in A320neo

IndiGo, which flies four in every 10 Indian air passengers, is owned by InterGlobe Aviation and operates hundreds of flights each day

New Delhi: InterGlobe Aviation Ltd-run IndiGo is running a truncated service after grounding about half its fuel-efficient Airbus A320neo planes over engine flaws.

The airline has 22 of these planes in its fleet of 136 aircraft. The planes provide fuel savings of around 15% over their previous avatar, the A320ceo.

“This has been an ongoing issue for the past few months. There are engine shortages from Pratt & Whitney, so sometimes even if one engine is down plane has to be grounded. Which is why the number of planes varies,” a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

One aircraft typically does about six flights a day depending on the sector, and the non-operation of eight or nine planes could result in a reduction of 48-54 flights with a cascading impact on the network and airport slots.

News agency Press Trust of India on Friday said at least 13 planes have been grounded and 84 flights cancelled.

IndiGo said eight of its A320neo planes had been grounded and passengers informed. It said the planes were not available for all of July, and won’t be for August and September as well.

“The affected passengers have already been accommodated with suitable options,” an IndiGo spokesman said in a statement on Friday.

IndiGo’s flight cancellation rate peaked in the month of June to 3.34%, while in July it was 0.45%. For the rest of the months this year the airline had cancellations at around 0.14% except in January when it was hit by fog delays and cancelled 0.98% of its flights.

One of the airline’s planes experienced an engine failure this month. Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) declined comment.

“The engine-related issues of A320neos and delays in providing adequate spare engines affected IndiGo’s operational performance during the (June) quarter; capacity growth, at 18.7%, was lower than guidance. The management believes it would take another year for implementing the design changes required for fixing the problems of A320neo Pratt & Whitney engines. IndiGo expects reduced disruptions once Pratt & Whitney increases the availability of spare engines. However, due to aircraft induction delays, capacity addition for FY18 has been revised down from 25% to 20%,” SBICaps Securities said in a report on 31 July after the airline said on an analyst call that it has grounded nine planes.

In the analyst call, IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh said that “while we do receive certain compensation from Pratt & Whitney for these groundings, the operational disruptions are quite challenging and we are not happy with that situation.”

IndiGo shares fell 0.82% to Rs1,266 at the close of trading on the BSE on a day the benchmark fell 0.85% to end at 31,528.64 points.

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