Indigo cancellation concerns-Analysis and recommendation

With Jet Airways in a financial mess, Air India having its own concerns and limited network of Vistara, Indigo is the undisputed market leader in India’s aviation business. However, earlier this month Indigo drew wrath of lots of passengers has they had to cancel 30+ flights and worse, these cancellations are extended till end of March. While some excuses like airport closure, hailstorm etc were given as a reason, the unstated news is that Indigo is facing shortage of pilots. With this background, many of my readers were concerned if their Indigo flight will operate as per schedule. Indigo hasn’t made a specific announcement listing what exact flights are cancelled and which all will operate as per schedule. Only affected passengers are informed in person.
So is it safe to continue booking with Indigo? What are the alternatives? What precautions to take? This post offers my analysis.

Is it safe to book with Indigo? Yes.
Understand that Indigo operate 1300+ flights a day. Cancellation of 30 of them is about 2.2% of their operation. Probability of your flight is being one of these 30 is too low
I understand Indigo has been very careful while cancelling the flights- since the issue is shortage of pilots they can chose which flights to cancel. Indigo is cancelling only such flights where it is possible to provide an alternate option to passengers
For example, they will cancel one of the flights from schedules that have multiple flights per day between cities. There’re 5 direct flights between Chennai and Delhi- if they have to cut some flights, they would cut one of these- so that affected passengers can either take an earlier or later flight OR go for one stop flight via say Hyderabad, Kolkata or Mumbai.

It is not possible predict delays weeks in advance. Delay, cancellations can happen with any airline, due to dozens of reasons most of which are not in airline’s control. If you wish to avoid Jet Airways that is understandable given their crisis situation. If you have Air Vistara with decent price you might wish to book it blindly. If not Indigo seems to be the best option, I would say go ahead and book. They do have a decent network- almost half the market share- there is a small risk but I think it is very low and worth taking.

My Experience:
I had a flight to Mumbai last weekend. Vistara doesn’t fly between Mumbai and Chennai, so I had to chose between remaining airlines. I chose to avoid Jet Airways for now, due to their precarious situation. Of the remaining- Indigo, Go Air, Air India, Spicejet, Indigo had multiple flights per day. Thus I decided to take a chance- I flew in Friday night though it would have been convenient to fly Saturday early morning. This was to factor some buffer time- in case my flight is cancelled I could take next flight and still make it to the event in Mumbai. The onward flight was on time. No issues at all. In fact Spicejet had lots of cancellations.

On the return flight, boarding happened on time, but there was no copilot. He came in late and we took off some 40 minutes late. We were told crew had to come in an another flight which was delayed. We also had an off duty pilot sitting as passenger. Eventually we made it to Chennai with some 30-40 minute delay.

Precautions to take
Keep buffer. If you have a crucial meeting on Monday morning 10 AM, don’t plan such that you’ll land at 8 AM. Take an earlier flight- may be Sunday evening or Monday very early morning, so that even if there’s an issue you’ve some buffer time to take alternate flight.

Check Plan B- in case your flight is to be cancelled what would be your Plan B? Does Indigo got another flight same day? Or is a one stop flight is viable for you?

Overall, I would say there’s nothing significant to worry about Indigo’s pilot problem. Go ahead and book if you find Indigo convenient and cheap.


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