Stranded flyers left high and dry: SpiceJet's cancellation spree may hit its future

Low-cost carrier SpiceJetmay have been in newsfor their fund-raising plans, but the airline has also been making headlines forcanceling and re-schedules flights due to a sudden shortage in aircraft.

Irate passengers have been taking to Twitter after being alerted by the the airline of cancellations:

A journalist with Firstbiz who was to fly with SpiceJet on Thursday was also at the receiving end when she was told just 48 hours prior that her connecting flight on a journey to Lucknow had been cancelled and that too via an SMS. After a 30minute wait, she finally managed to get through to the call centre, and a tweet directed at the airline only met with the response that a customer care representative would get in touch with her 'shortly'. The call centre finally confirmedherticket for part of the journey, but she was forced to book the connecting flight on another airline and that too last minute.

The large number of cancellations on the airline are primarily as the number of daily flights being operatedhave been trimmed down by 50.

SpiceJet had said last week that a new flight schedule has been put in place for this week as some Boeing 737 aircraft from its fleet had to be returned. At its peak fleet strength in July this year, SpiceJet had 35 Boeing 737s and 15 Q400s. As on 18 November the airline had 26 operational aircraft.

COO Sanjiv Kapoor had told Firstbiz yesterday that the airline expects to see six Boeing aircraft return to its fleet later this week.

This could mean that the cancellations could reduce by next week. But the incidents of last week could bode ill for the airline that is already not in the best financial health.

Rumours of mass cancellations on Twitter and WhatsApp groups resulted in panic at the Chennai airport with passengers fighting for alternatives, as this report documents. The airline's call centre has reportedly been inundated with calls due to the cancellations and even travel websites that have sold tickets forthe airline have complained that it could hit future sales of tickets on the airline.

A general manager of a travel website was quoted as telling the Economic Times that customers were "very, very angry" with SpiceJet.

A DNA report claims that the loss for the airline due to the cancellations could cost the airline Rs 15-30 crore by the end of this month, with the newspaper saying that by its estimates SpiceJet was losing anywhere between Rs 1.5 and 2 crore per day.

The airline, however, maintains that it has been dealing with its customers the best it can. COO Sanjiv Kapoor, who is normally active on Twitter,initiallytook on some users over spreading of rumours, but has since chosen tohighlight the good work the airline is doing instead. The airline may have seen a turnaround in occupancy and profits thanks to its flash sales, but the ill willgenerated by the cancellations may hit its future plans if customers are turned off by its handling of it.The airline's handling of this situation could well determine how high it flies in the coming days.

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Updated Date: Nov 25, 2014 13:46:28 IST