Despite winning the bids for the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), the airlines are reluctant to start services from Pune airport, reports Times of India.
SpiceJet, IndiGo, Alliance Air, Air Deccan, and Star Airlines had won the RCS bid for five destinations from Pune. Except for Alliance Air, none of them applied for slots at the airport for UDAN flights. There were empty slots at Pune airport, but none of the airlines apart from Alliance Air applied for UDAN flights. Now all the slots have been approved except for the two international slots. But, none of the airlines applied for UDAN flights, the report quoted an unnamed airport authority.
However, from the perspective of airlines, they are facing issues due to the grounding of Jet Airways and Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. In such a scenario, the priority is to keep the existing routes alive and not to add new routes.
SpiceJet received a dominant share of the slots vacated by the grounding of Jet Airways across the airports in the country. However, after the ground of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, SpiceJet is facing a shortage of aircraft. “Our entire focus has shifted after grounding of our Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. Now, our focus is on using smaller aircraft to operate on regular routes,” the report quoted a SpiceJet official saying.
All airlines equally agree to the fact that daytime slots are available in Pune airport and it is an opportunity to encash through RCS flights. However, the current shortage of aircraft and the crew members prevent them from doing so. The airlines are in the process of inducting new aircraft, and hence, they may think of starting RCS flights from Pune.
Pune airport cannot ask the airlines to start the flights. After winning the bids, it is for the airlines to start the service.
The grounding of Jet Airways has forced airlines to rethink their business model and strategies. They are re-prioritizing their operational preferences.