DGCA asks why duration of flights on same routes vary

Jan 14 2013, 14:04 IST
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Summary* Are airlines quoting longer flight duration to avoid ‘delays’?

Ever wondered why different airlines flying the same kind of aircraft between two destinations have big variations in their flight duration? If you have, you are not the only one.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation or the DGCA has lately been asking the same question. It has been left pondering over the difference in flight durations, sometimes as high as 40 minutes, on key routes.

The air safety regulator has now initiated an inquiry to know what exactly makes one flight reach a destination far quicker than others flying on the same route.

The DGCA, on orders from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has called a meeting of all airlines informally, seeking reasons for such differences in flight duration.

“We are calling the airlines asking them to explain the reasons behind different flight duration. The difference (in duration) is found to be huge and we have decided to ensure that the difference in duration should not be more than 10 minutes between two flights,” said a senior DGCA official.

Hoping to get some answers, The Indian Express sent email queries to Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir on December 10, 2012 and again on January 1. However, Jet, SpiceJet and GoAir did not reply to the emails, while a spokesperson of IndiGo responded with a ‘no comment’.

However, the question of difference in flight durations is not to be passed as nosiness.

According to the air safety regulator, longer duration of flight provides an airline extra time for consecutive flights and ultimately enables it to report a better on-time performance (OTP).

“The airlines prefer keeping extra time with them. This gives them ample time even if the flight reaches late. The next flight with the same plane is also not late and departs on time, ultimately improving its OTP,” said the DGCA official.

To discourage this practice, a committee formed under a joint secretary in the civil aviation ministry had stipulated that the difference in the maximum and minimum flight duration between two destinations should not exceed 10 minutes. earlier, the difference allowed was 30 minutes, said a senior DGCA official.

An analysis of flight duration mentioned by airlines on their website for five major routes, where the same type of aircraft is deployed, show that almost all carriers, especially private airlines, breached the prescribed time difference allowed under the DGCA rules.

Among the five routes, the lowest time difference

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