IndiGo gets caught up spectacularly in the Mumbai Rains

IndiGo, which has been building its reputation on an ontime performance for many many years, has seen a large number of disruptions this year. I guess this comes with the size of their operations, which is almost half of the domestic deployed capacity of airlines in India. Remember the time they had a flight disruption in Hyderabad due to bad manpower planning? It seems Mumbai had its IndiGo Flight Delay moment yesterday.

Mumbai had some crazy rains on September 4, 2019, and the whole city went into disarray. Nothing unusual about it, because this happens every year, and many times in a year in Mumbai. Usually the airport functions fine, and when it shuts down, it is because of aircraft getting stuck on the runway (Mumbai can only operate from one runway at a time).

However, yesterday, IndiGo had a massive meltdown at Mumbai, which had them operating at reduced capacity out of the Mumbai airport. The airline did not have many of their people report to the airport, including captains, crew, ground handling and such, and as a result of which, planes were stuck at the airport for hours together.

  1. People arrived into Mumbai and were sitting on the tarmac for hours before being deplaned due to not enough infrastructure to bring them out of the planes.
  2. People arrived at the airport and were sitting in the terminal waiting to board a flight.
  3. People boarded the aircraft, and then sat on the plane for hours, in some cases, up to 7-8 hours before the plane took off.

Here are some passenger reactions.

Here are various flights departing from Mumbai with a delay. For instance, 6E6097 was supposed to leave at 15:15 hours but only left at 21:55 hours. 6E768 was to leave at 14:25 but only left at 23:25. You will see a lot of screenshots here, before you see more text!

Other airlines however, largely had their operations not impacted by this event except for IndiGo. There were delays, but not as long as these ones.

Unfortunately, IndiGo did not have their story put together, as they were offering a different reason to everyone for their delays. They first sought to put it on the weather, but when were caught on that, gave what could be the full explanation.

Later, they said this.

Bottomline

As IndiGo grows, the one factor it needs to bring into their operations is empathy. All airlines go through these events at some point of time. How you deal with it is what matters. IndiGo keeping people in planes for 6 hours to 8 hours was not empathy. I advocate people being in planes ready for departure, but when you don’t have a pilot, don’t bring passengers on the plane and hoard them on board. Also, keep them well fed and give them information as you know it. For instance, if IndiGo did not have crew to operate flights, that is IndiGo’s shortcoming, so just blaming it on the weather does not cut it. There are important learnings here for the airline.

Were you flying out of Mumbai yesterday? How was your experience?

Comments

  1. I was stuck in this mess. It clearly showed lack of planning and no contingency in such cases. There was crew at the airport but they were also clueless. Biggest issue was non availability of coaches to ferry passengers as planes were not getting aerobridges.

    I finally cancelled my ticket and came back home. It was an official trip so travel desk will follow up on the refund.

    Indigo has zero training on empathy. There was no food or water for stranded passengers. I checked in the morning that my flight left at 230 am against 730 scheduled time.

    The staff was minimal and one Mr. Rao who claimed to be Airport deputy manager was just doing phone calls. I understand his situation but airline industry cannot work in JIT or Agile!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *