SpiceJet passengers may now have to fly on Go First and vice versa: Here's why

This new measure has proved to be beneficial for both SpiceJet and Go First and also for the passengers, especially in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic

SpiceJet passengers may now have to fly on Go First and vice versa: Here's why
GoAir (currently Go First) (left) and SpiceJet tailfins. image courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/Anna Zvereva and Wikimedia Commons/planepictures.net/Sean d'Silva

Financially struggling budget carriers SpiceJet and Go First (erstwhile GoAir) have agreed to combine flights and accommodate each other's passengers if they don't get enough passengers for a flight themselves. 

This new measure has proved to be beneficial for both the airlines and also for the passengers, especially in the face of the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, The Hindu Business Line reported. It has already helped the two airlines cut costs by 70%, or close to Rs 20 lakh daily, and passengers have been spared the hassle of seeing their flights cancelled. So far at least 20,000 passengers have been benefited. 

Footfall at Indian airports has fallen sharply as a result of a frightening second wave of Covid-19 running through the country and restrictions imposed on flyers by numerous states. According to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) data, on June 3, only 1,34,574 passengers transited through the Indian airports, sharply down from the nearly five lakh that departed or arrived at the Indian airports on March 19.   

According to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data, SpiceJet and Go First had PLFs of 70.8% and 65.7% respectively. PLF refers to the percentage of an aircraft's available seating capacity that is occupied. A Mumbai to Ahmedabad SpiceJet flight had only 75 passengers on an aircraft that could seat close to 250 passengers, according to The Hindu Business Line. Flying with so few passengers doesn't make good financial sense.

Also read -- GoAir to become ultra low cost carrier: What it means for passengers

Last month, an Indian passenger travelled all by himself from Mumbai to Dubai on an Emirates Boeing 777 that has the capacity to house 360 passengers. Apart from burning about 17 tonnes of fuel worth Rs 8 lakh, Emirates would have had to shell out landing fees and salaries of the cabin crew, pilots and engineers. The passenger, however, had to pay just Rs 18,000. 

In pre-Covid times, airlines would operate flights even in case of low PLFs, but under the changed circumstances, the absence of passengers doesn't make a flight viable, especially if the airline is bleeding. 

SpiceJet and Go First had the lowest number of cancellations among Indian airlines in April 2021, at 0.42% and 0.09% respectively. However, SpiceJet's total passenger volume was lowest in April compared to the first three months of 2021. The airline carried 7.05 lakh passengers in April, giving it a market share of 12.3%.

Also read: SpiceJet bends all rules to fly to dangerous Pakyong; DGCA doesn't care

Go First's passenger volumes were also the lowest in April compared to the first three months of this year. It transported 5.47 lakh passengers in April, giving it a market share of 9.6%. Its market share, however, increased significantly from the previous month. On-time performance of SpiceJet and Go First at four major metro airports (Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad) were 92.5% and 98.1% respectively.    

A SpiceJet spokesperson said that the airline has an Irregular Operations (IROP) agreement with its peers. This agreement allows carriers to accommodate each other's passengers in case of a technical glitch or emergency. 

Under the flight combination agreement, the two airlines are supposed to send their passenger lists to each other. If one of the airlines is required to make room for passengers of the other, the former would sell a lesser number of seats. The operating airline would pay its peer a distance-based fare according to the fare band for the particular flight.

(Cover image courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/Anna Zvereva and Wikimedia Commons/planepictures.net/Sean d'Silva)