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Air India Express flight cancellations: Airline sacks 30 cabin crew; flyers opting for other airlines may have to pay more airfare – top 10 things to know

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Air India Express flights cancellation: Air India Express, the budget carrier of Tata Group, is grappling with ongoing challenges amidst the airline merger process. The airline, which operates between 350 and 400 flights daily, including more than 250 domestic and 120 international routes, has announced a reduction of approximately 40 flights per day until May 13.
The situation echoes the recent troubles faced by Vistara, the full-service carrier also undergoing a merger with Air India.Starting Tuesday afternoon, over 300 cabin crew members of AI Express began calling in sick, resulting in the cancellation of more than 90 flights by Wednesday evening. In response, the airline has initiated the issuance of termination letters to the crew members who reported sick. With aircraft occupancy currently exceeding 80%, the cancellations have impacted around 13,000 passengers.

Air India Express Flight Cancellations: 10 Things To Know

  1. Air India Express has terminated the employment of 30 cabin crew members who were part of a group of approximately 300 staff that called in sick simultaneously starting from Tuesday evening.
  2. The termination letters issued to the dismissed cabin crew members accuse them of engaging in a premeditated and concerted abstention from work without justifiable reason, leading to the cancellation of numerous flights and causing inconvenience to passengers, reputational damage, and financial losses to the company, states a TOI report.
  3. The Tata Group’s budget carrier has reduced its daily flights by around 11% until May 13.
  4. Due to the shortage of cabin crew, Air India Express cancelled 74 flights on Thursday and announced that Air India would operate services on 20 of its routes to minimize disruptions.
  5. Passengers whose flights are cancelled or delayed by more than three hours have the option to request a full refund or reschedule their flight without any additional fees. The number of cancelled flights represents approximately 20% of the airline’s scheduled daily flights.
  6. The cabin crew of AI Express are protesting against HR issues arising from the impending merger of the former AirAsia India into the airline. The AI Express Employees Union, which the airline management does not recognize as an official union, had written to Tata Group chairman N Chandrasekaran on April 26, 2024, expressing their concerns about the growing unrest and dissatisfaction among the employees, the TOI report says.
  7. The situation remains fluid as senior cabin crew members are reporting sick at the last minute, just before they are scheduled to operate flights. While the airline is proactively cancelling flights until next Monday, the actual number of cancellations may vary depending on crew availability.
  8. The cancellations by AI Express during the peak summer season are expected to impact travelers, as capacity is already limited due to various factors such as the grounding of over 75 IndiGo planes due to engine issues, the shutdown of GoAir, the reduced operations of struggling SpiceJet, and slower-than-expected deliveries of new aircraft from Airbus and the crisis-ridden Boeing, the TOI report says.
  9. Although Air India Express is offering full refunds or complimentary rescheduling, affected passengers may have to purchase last-minute tickets on other airlines at significantly higher spot fares, particularly over the weekend.
  10. The aviation ministry has requested the airline to provide a report on the mass cancellations and to promptly resolve the issues. The airline has been advised to ensure that passengers are provided with facilities in accordance with DGCA norms.


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