Unhappy about frequent issues with Pratt & Whitney engines: IndiGo co-founder and interim CEO Rahul Bhatia

Rahul Bhatia said that in the interim, IndiGo continues to rely on spare engines to keep the aircraft flying

Press Trust of India July 31, 2018 13:10:00 IST
Unhappy about frequent issues with Pratt & Whitney engines: IndiGo co-founder and interim CEO Rahul Bhatia

Mumbai: Budget carrier IndiGo's co-founder and interim chief executive officer Rahul Bhatia on Monday said he is unhappy with the frequent issues with Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines, which power the airline's Airbus A320 Neo fleet, and hoped for an early resolution.

Since the induction of A320 Neos in March 2016, IndiGo has intermittently been facing engine issues and has been forced to ground these aircraft on several occasions.

"The Neos continue to face issues, resulting in parts going out sooner then they should, and we are not happy about the situation," Bhatia said during the post-earnings analysts call today.

Significantly, the airline's net profit in the June quarter nosedived to Rs 28.7 crore, an almost 97 per cent decline over Rs 811 crore in the year-ago period.

Stating that while the US-engine maker and its parent company UTC are working on fixing these issues, Bhatia said, "We remain cautiously optimistic and hope these issues are resolved at the earliest."

Currently, five of its A320 Neos are grounded for want of spare P&W engines. Besides, the airline grounded one more A320 Neo after it was found that the rear of the engine was damaged besides the damage to the turbine blades on its landing in Coimbatore from New Delhi on 25 July.

Unhappy about frequent issues with Pratt  Whitney engines IndiGo cofounder and interim CEO Rahul Bhatia

File image of an IndoGo plane. Reuters

"On July 25, an IndiGo flight operating 6E-396 (Coimbatore-Delhi) was grounded at Coimbatore due to a minor defect observed in the rear section of the engine during ground inspection. There was no effect noted during flight operations. As a precautionary measure, IndiGo kept the aircraft on ground until we have finalised the corrective action with the manufacturer," the airline said in a statement to PTI today.

Bhatia also said that in the interim, the airline continues to rely on spare engines to keep the aircraft flying.

"However, we do face shortage of spares and some planes have been grounded. We expect situation with the spare engines to improve in the current quarter," he added.

Meanwhile, IndiGo continues to receive compensation from the manufacturers for the revenue loss due to the time-to-time grounding of the A320 Neos.

"IndiGo received credit from its manufacturers this quarter to offset some of the adverse impact for aircraft grounding and delayed deliveries," airline chief financial
officer Rohit Philip said during the analyst call.

In the June quarter last year, IndiGo grounded nine A320 Neo planes due to engine issues. The grounding had also resulted in it cancelling 84 flights on a particular day.

Then again between February and March this year, 14 planes - 11 of IndiGo and three of GoAir - were taken out of operations due to the same engine issues on the directions of aviation regulator DGCA after a series of mid-air shutdowns were reported by the two carriers.

P&W has, however, has perpetually failed to address the engines issues despite repeated assurances to Indian civil aviation authorities, who also have failed to take stringent action against the engine maker or the airline.

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