As many as seven in ten fliers in a survey carried out recently have had a cancelled or rescheduled flight once or more this year by the airline due to internal operational reasons.
Moreover, 9 in 10 fliers want the government to mandate airlines to pay 25-50 per cent value of the ticket as a penalty to them if they reschedule or cancel flights due to low load factor or internal reasons, according to the survey conducted by LocalCircles to gather pulse of the fliers on flight cancellations or reschedules by airlines due to internal reasons.
The survey also covered the frequency of such incidents in the past year along with what should be the penalty on airlines if they reschedule or cancel flights due to internal reasons.
The survey received 23,000 responses from air passengers located in over 318 districts of the country, LocalCircles said in a statement.
Also 61 respondents were men while 39 per cent of respondents were women. Besides, 46 per cent of respondents were from tier 1, 34 per cent from tier 2 and the remaining 20 per cent of respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts, it said.
Fliers cite experiences of boarding denial by airlines on being a few minutes late for check-in; being forced to pay a higher fare on the next flight, while at the same time, there is zero penalty paid to passengers when the airline cancels or reschedules a flight due to internal issues, according to the LocalCirles statement.
The findings assume significance amid the aviation security agency BCAS and aviation safety regulator DGCA on Wednesday slapping financial penalties were Rs 2.70 crore on IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet and Mumbai International Airport Ltd for various violations.
At the start of the year, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had asked airline operators and representatives to do justice to passengers amid a large number of complaints about flight cancellations and delays due to fog and other operational-related issues, it said.
In December 2023, the Government issued guidelines to airlines about compensation to be paid to air passengers in the event of flight cancellations and delays, LocalCircles said.
As some airlines are still not following the practice of keeping fliers informed about all delays, reschedules and cancellations, leading to significant inconvenience for them, the survey asked: "In the last 12 months, how many times have airlines rescheduled or cancelled your flight due to their internal (non-weather, security, government order, among others) reasons?".
"The query received 11,296 responses with 20 per cent indicating "4-6 times," 30 per cent of respondents indicated "2-3 times" and 20 per cent of respondents indicated "once".
"In addition, 20 per cent of respondents indicated "never" and the remaining 10 per cent did not give a clear response," LocalCircles said.
"To sum up, 7 in 10 fliers surveyed say they have had a cancelled or rescheduled flight once or more this year by the airline due to internal operational reasons," it stated.
The survey next asked fliers, many of whom have faced problems due to delay or cancellation of flights "What should be the disincentives for airlines to not cancel or reschedule flights because of empty seats or low load factor on the flight?".
The query received 11,923 responses with the majority or 78 per cent of respondents indicating that "there should be a minimum penalty equivalent to 50 per cent of ticket value payable to the passenger" and 12 per cent indicating that "there should be a minimum penalty equivalent to 25 per cent of ticket value," it said.
However, 2 per cent of the respondents felt "there should be no penalty" and 8 per cent gave no clear response, as per the statement.
"To sum up, 9 in 10 fliers want the government to mandate airlines to pay 25-50% value of the ticket as a penalty to them if they reschedule or cancel flights due to low load factor or internal reasons," it stated.