Flight Plan

IndiGo and SpiceJet square off in the OTP war

Ashwini Phadnis | Updated on January 13, 2018


Airlines now compete on punctuality, not just fares

The past month has seen a war of words between IndiGo and SpiceJet on the issue of on-time performance, or OTP. On January 31, Aditya Ghosh, President, IndiGo said in an analysts conference call that “we suspect that the OTP statistics of some of our competitors in India is not quite correct.” He added that the airline had submitted evidence to industry regulator DGCA and had asked for a detailed investigation.

SpiceJet officials had earlier wondered why IndiGo had no problem with the methodology of data collection when it was on the top of the table.

DGCA’s data shows that in December last year, SpiceJet recorded a OTP of 70 per cent at the four metro airports while Jet Airways and JetLite reported an OTP of 64.3 per cent, Vistara 64.2 per cent, GoAir63.6 per cent, IndiGo 61.6 per cent and Air India brought in the rear with a performance of 59 per cent in its domestic flights.

While neither of the airlines has named each other and haven’t talked to the media, the DGCA too has kept mum. But the statements have continued.

Earlier this month, SpiceJet issued a statement quoting Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, saying “the airline had emerged as the most punctual airline for the fourth successive month.” Not everyone was amused.

What is OTP?

Schedule adherence or OTP refers to the success of air services with reference to published schedules. Depending on a number of factors, a flight may be regularly delayed. In separate circumstances, a flight that is usually on time may be occasionally behind schedule.

OTP, which is a good indication of whether an airline is operating its flights on time, is determined by recording the time of chocks-off, in case of a departure, and chocks-on, for arrival. If the actual departure or arrival time is up to 15 minutes off the schedule, the flight is considered on-time.

In India, OTP is calculated for operations to and from Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports as these have incorporated some of the technology required to capture data.

But even in these four cities, data can be captured at only 36 per cent of the parking gates without human interference. Often, it is the responsibility of an outside agency to manually record arrival and departure timings. And this is where manipulation of data could be done. In January, Mumbai airport suspended two executives for discrepancies in measurement of OTP.

In the past too, OTP has been a contentious issue. In 2009, the then Director General of Civil Aviation Nasim Zaidi — who is at present the Chief Election Commissioner — made a team that included representatives of airlines and Airport Authority of India for daily review, or the lack of OTP of flights. Clearly nothing much has changed since then.

Published on February 21, 2017

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