The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked debt-strapped SpiceJet to cut down its operations by 50 per cent for 8 weeks due to poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions.

"For continued sustenance of safe and reliable air transport service, the number of departures of SpiceJet are hereby restricted to 50 per cent of the number of departures approved under Summer Schedule 2022 for a period of 8 weeks from the date of issue of this order, in accordance with powers conferred under rule 19A of the Aircraft Rules, 1937," said a letter by the DGCA.

It explained that on a number of occasions, the aircraft either turned back to its originating station or continued landing to the destination with degraded safety margins. “There is poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance actions, which have resulted in degradation of the safety margins. Financial assessment carried out by the DGCA in September 2021 has revealed that M/s SpiceJet is operating on cash and carry, and suppliers/approved vendors are not being paid on regular basis leading to the shortage of spares and frequent invoking of MELS,” said the DGCA.

The spot check was on the basis of reported incidents on aircraft operated by SpiceJet from April 1 to July 5. The Accountable Manager has been given three weeks of receipt of the notice to explain as to why action should not be taken against the airline.

Any increase in the number of departures beyond 50 per cent of the number of departures approved under Summer Schedule 2022, during this period, shall be subject to the airline demonstrating to the satisfaction of the DGCA that it has sufficient technical support and financial resource to safely and efficiently undertake such enhanced capacity. During these eight weeks period, the airline shall be subjected to “enhanced surveillance by the DGCA”. Further decision in the matter shall be taken thereafter.

No impact says SpiceJet

A SpiceJet statement said there will be no impact on operations. “Due to the current lean travel season, SpiceJet like other airlines had already rescheduled its flight operations. Hence, there will be absolutely no impact on our flight operations. We want to reassure our passengers and travel partners that our flights will operate as per schedule in the coming days and weeks. There will be no flight cancellation as a consequence of this order,” the statement said

“DGCA’s observation that SpiceJet is taking measures for arresting the trend of incidents is very encouraging and we will continue to work under the close guidance of the regulator,”it added.