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Indian flyers unhappy with airline services

International flight movements are above 40 per cent of pre-Covid levels. According to data from the Airports Authority of India (AAI), total international passengers in January 2022 were at 25 lakh, while in January 2020 they were at 64.9 lakh.

Indian flyers unhappy with airline services
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International flight movements are above 40 per cent of pre-Covid levels. According to data from the Airports Authority of India (AAI), total international passengers in January 2022 were at 25 lakh, while in January 2020 they were at 64.9 lakh.

The nation has a vast domestic market and lured by still-cheap tickets, customers have surged back to airports in their tens of millions, stretching an aviation workforce depleted and weakened by one of the world's worst Covid outbreaks. At the same time, spiralling fuel expenses have burdened balance sheets just as airlines are trying to add capacity.

However, Indian flyers are unhappy with airline services. SpiceJet, IndiGo and Air India tops the list. Some 79 per cent of the 15,000 airline passengers surveyed by LocalCircles said they believe carriers in India are compromising on passenger comfort and cutting corners as a result of the pandemic, souring the reopening of what was prior to Covid the world's fastest-growing aviation market.

SpiceJet is said to be prioritising automation, technology and sustainability to improve customers' experience. IndiGo has also been focusing on digitisation to give customers a contactless travel experience, noting that using technology at check-in to boarding and beyond has helped it reduce wait times at airports.

Widespread staff shortages and disgruntled labour forces are common place when airlines are struggling. IndiGo, which saw huge losses in its latest quarter and it has been laying off staff and are asking employees to take leave without pay. SpiceJet has deferred salaries and, when passenger traffic plunged to near zero during India's second Covid wave, it paid some employees based on their work hours.

Topping respondents' list of airlines whose service was deemed most unsatisfactory was SpiceJet Ltd, followed by the country's biggest airline with a 55 per cent market share, IndiGo. Complaints across all airlines included flight delays, shoddy in-flight service, bad boarding procedures, poor maintenance and fading aircraft interiors.

The results come as Indian carriers find themselves on the receiving end of a degree of backlash from passengers. In one recent high-profile incident, IndiGo barred a disabled teenager from boarding a flight, saying the boy was causing a disturbance and could pose a safety threat.

In another video that recently went viral a woman is seen suffering a panic attack after Air India Ltd, now under the management of India's largest conglomerate Tata Group, prevented her from boarding, saying she arrived after the gate shut.

LocalCircles (a social media platform) conducted the groundwork of the survey. The sample size of the survey consisted of 15,000 airline passengers, 79 per cent of which believed "carriers in India are compromising on passenger comfort and cutting corners as a result of the pandemic." Passengers feel that the airline employees' deteriorating standard of customer service came post-pandemic.

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