Domestic aviation sector absolutely safe, asserts DGCA chief

The country’s civil aviation space is “absolutely safe” and all the protocols laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) are followed, he said.
DGCA’s chief Arun Kumar
DGCA’s chief Arun KumarANI

NEW DELHI: Aviation watchdog DGCA’s chief Arun Kumar on Sunday said technical snags faced by domestic carriers in recent weeks did not have the potential to cause havoc and that even foreign airlines that came to India reported 15 technical snags in the last 16 days.

The country’s civil aviation space is “absolutely safe” and all the protocols laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) are followed, he said.

Against the backdrop of a spate of technical snags suffered by Indian airlines in recent weeks and DGCA curtailing operations of SpiceJet, Kumar stressed that there is no need to panic as none of the events that have been reported/discussed had the potential to cause havoc.

“All the snags experienced are routine and happen with all airlines and all types of fleet. In the last 16 days, even for the foreign operators who come to India, we have seen 15 technical snags, which have been attended and rectified,” Kumar said.

Specific details about snags that were faced by the overseas carriers were not disclosed.

According to Kumar, the snags faced by the foreign operators were similar to that encountered by the Indian carriers.

In recent times, more than a dozen instances of Indian carriers facing technical snags have become public, especially in the case of SpiceJet, and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is keeping a close watch on the developments.

“What most of them (recent incidents of technical snags) required was troubleshooting, replacement of some component say windshield due to outer layer crack, defective valve, high-pressure switch, landing gear uplock, hydraulic accumulator or an engine,” Kumar said. The regulator has started a two-month-long special audit of airlines to address possible issues and has curtailed the operations of SpiceJet, among other measures, amid a spurt in instances of technical snags.

After being severely hit by the pandemic, the domestic civil aviation sector is on the recovery path and on average, there are more than 6,000 aircraft movements in the Indian airspace daily. If overflying planes are also taken into account, the total would be over 7,000 movements. Responding to reservations expressed in certain quarters that DGCA action against SpiceJet was not strong enough, Kumar said, “I am not here to shut down airlines. My role is to take measures to ensure safe and efficient flying”.

India-Dubai figures as 7 of 20 busiest international air travel routes in May

Seven of the 20 busiest international air travel routes from India in May were to Dubai, according to data provided by aviation analytics company Cirium.

In May 2019 - before the Covid pandemic dramatically impacted the global aviation sector - only two of the top 20 international air travel routes from India were to Dubai, according to the data.

“International air travel is guided by bilateral rights. In case of Dubai, (the number of) Emirates flights are back (to the pre-pandemic level) but that is not the case with every other region. This made Dubai climb up the list faster than others,” said Ameya Joshi, aviation analyst and founder of aviation blog “Network Thoughts”.

In May 2019, the busiest international air travel route from India was Kolkata-Dhaka with 301 flights, the data mentioned.

However, the busiest international route in India in May 2022 was Mumbai-Dubai with 406 flights. Not just that, the second busiest international route in May 2022 was Delhi-Dubai with 332 flights.

The third busiest international air travel route from India in May this year was Chennai-Colombo with 183 flights, the data showed. The fourth busiest route was Cochin-Dubai with 167 flights.

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