Vistara Hit by Flight Cancellations, Delays as Pilots, Crew Call in Sick in Droves; Ministry Asks for Details
Moneylife Digital Team/IANS 05 April 2024
Private carrier Vistara, a joint venture of Tata Sons Pvt Ltd and Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA), says that in light of crew unavailability and other factors, the airline has experienced a notable uptick in cancellations and delays. However, according to a report, Vistara pilots sought sick leave en masse, leading to severe operational issues at the Tata Group-owned airline. The move led to 35–50 flights being disrupted as pilots were not available. This was prompted by a revised salary system the airline was trying to implement ahead of its merger with Air India, says a report from NDTV Profit quoting two people with knowledge of the matter.

On Tuesday, a total of 52 flights were cancelled by Vistara after pilots remained on mass sick leave in protest against the terms of a new contract following the airline's decision to merge with Air India.
 
Sources told IANS that Vistara pilots collectively requested sick leave over the introduction of a revised salary structure by the airline which is seen as a prelude to its merger with Air India. Under the terms of the new contract, which came into effect in April, Vistara pilots will now be paid a fixed salary for 40 hours instead of the previous 70 hours.

For the past few days, several flights have been cancelled and delayed due to the ongoing mass leave by pilots.

Meanwhile, with the airline having cancelled or delayed over 100 flights in the past week, the Union ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) sought a detailed report from Vistara on flight cancellations and major delays.
 
A spokesperson for Vistara says, "We have had a significant number of flight cancellations and delays in the past few days due to various reasons, including crew unavailability. We acknowledge this and are deeply concerned about the inconvenience caused to our customers."
 
The spokesperson also said that the airline is working towards minimising the discomfort to the customers."We have decided to temporarily reduce the number of flights we operate to ensure adequate connectivity across our network. We have also deployed larger aircraft like the B787-9 Dreamliner and A321neo on select domestic routes to combine flights or accommodate more customers, wherever possible."
 
"Also, we are offering alternate flight options or refunds to the affected customers, as applicable. We understand that these disruptions have caused immense discomfort to our customers, and we sincerely apologise to them for the same," it added.
 
In a post on X, MoCA says it is monitoring the situation of Vistara flight cancellations. "However, flight operations are managed by the airlines themselves. Airlines have to comply with directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) norms to ensure passenger facilitation in case of cancellation or delay of flights."
 
Meanwhile, the DGCA has mandated Vistara to submit daily reports detailing flights that have been cancelled or delayed. Vistara has also been asked to ensure that the relevant provisions of CAR Section-3, Series M, Part-IV on "facilities to be provided to passengers by airlines due to denied boarding, cancellation of flights and delays in flights" are complied with like advance information, an option of refund, and compensation, if applicable, to the passengers, says Vikram Dev Dutt, director general of DGCA.
 
According to the news report, Vistara pilots were sent an email on 15 March 2024 asking them to sign up for a new pay structure. The pilots were asked to accept the pay structure the same day. NDTV Profit says it has reviewed a copy of the email.
 
"The structure required pilots to show up to work for at least 15 days in a month to be eligible for 40 hours of flytime in their pay, the person quoted above said. This was significantly lower than what they were presently getting," the report says. 
 
Many travellers whose flights were cancelled or delayed are venting their ire on X. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
To almost all comments, Vistara has been giving a standard reply like, "The flight is cancelled due to operational reasons" or "The flight is delayed due to operational reasons." 
 
"We are working towards stabilising the situation and will resume operating at our regular capacity very soon," the airline says.
Comments
pallavoorsubramanian
2 weeks ago
While the Airline touts itself as a premium airline offering the best of services, it does not take any measures to live up to it. How can you coerce the employees to accept something which results in reduced pay? Sheer highhandedness. I have used the Airline just once and found it pathetic on all fronts . Delay is the norm in the airline.
ramesh.vuyyuru
2 weeks ago
DGCA asking the airline for information/update is touted by the press as a panacea. It does nothing to help the travelers. Incidentally, the airline's website does not address the problem at all.
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