Indian low-cost carrier GoAir is facing the prospect of canceling some of its flights in the near future due to delays in the delivery of its Airbus A320neos and engines. The airline has blamed the issue on Airbus and Pratt and Whitney, who they say are unable to deliver expected products through to the 9th March.
A capacity problem for GoAir
The Economic Times reports today that GoAir is looking to cancel almost 50 daily flights as it awaits the delivery of replacement engines for its A320neo aircraft. The carrier has grounded at least seven aircraft in its fleet out of the 42 neos it operates, leaving huge gaps in its schedules.
Each aircraft, on average, conducts around eight to nine daily domestic flights, so losing seven from its fleet has left the airline adrift on up to 81 daily domestic rotations. Rather than leave the domestic market unattended, the airline is instead taking steps to pull aircraft off its long haul schedule in order to free up capacity for more daily flights.
In a statement to the Economic Times, the airline said,
“In the last four weeks, we have gone through unplanned grounding of aircraft, which were supporting our current operation of fleet. And now, we have been informed by our business partners Airbus and Pratt & Whitney of their inability to deliver previously promised aircraft and engines through 9th March 2020 that are required to support our current growth.
“As a result, we have been forced to temporarily suspend certain flights that are part of our network, schedule and open for sale.”
The specifics of the routes and flights to be canceled by GoAir has not yet been revealed, but it is thought that flights to Singapore and Kuwait are included.
What’s the problem with GoAir’s fleet?
Back in November last year, the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered operators of the A320neo to replace the Pratt & Whitney engines on the aircraft, following a spate of incidents involving midair shutdowns. This order affected two airlines in India – GoAir and IndiGo.
The airlines were originally given just 13 weeks to replace the engines on active aircraft. However, the DCGA recently relaxed this timeframe, giving the airlines until the 31st May to undertake the replacement. It’s unclear whether this extension came as a result of the news that IndiGo’s takeoff procedures could have been contributing to the problem.
Regardless of the extension to the timeframe, the DCGA still required an intensive upscaling of safety checks on these engines, in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns. This requirement is what has led to GoAir’s aircraft being grounded, awaiting new engines as faults have been found.
GoAir is expecting to receive between 12 and 15 more A320neo aircraft over the course of the year. It will continue to receive aircraft at this rate through to 2025, to fulfil its entire order of 144 Airbus A320neos.