New Delhi: Defending its safety performance following a rap by DGCA, no-frill carrier IndiGo on Tuesday said the regulatory investigation would not hit its expansion plans.
IndiGo, which placed orders for 100 Airbus A-320 planes in 2005 and another 150 last year, is inducting an average of one aircraft each month. As on December 2011, it had a fleet of 48 planes which would go up to 60 this year-end.
The financial surveillance carried out by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) recently raised several questions on IndiGo's safety record and suggested a review of its rapid fleet expansion plans.
Maintaining that they had replied to all the concerns raised by the regulator, IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh said there was a "time gap" as the reportage on the DGCA study did not cover replies given by the airlines. "It is DGCA's job to
ask searching questions to us. And we gave detailed presentations to the DGCA on the issues raised by them".
Defending IndiGo's fleet expansion plans, he said "we have shared the (aircraft) delivery schedule (with DGCA and other concerned authorities) in 2005 for 100 aircraft and later for 150 more."
"This business requires more planes, more growth. If we can run it profitably, the others can too. We are not the only ones expanding capacity," Ghosh, who heads the only Indian airline which posted profits this year, said.
Asserting that safety was its key concern which was maintained "meticulously", he made a point-by-point rebuttal of the findings of the DGCA's financial surveillance audit about IndiGo, saying "we always cooperate with the DGCA and
comply with the regulator's instructions".
The DGCA study had castigated IndiGo for "premature engine removals" in a short span of 10 months last year, apart from suppressing information on aircraft incidents which are minor accidents that do not cause major damage to aircraft or lead to injury or fatality.
On the need to increase aircraft fleet, the IndiGo chief said, "Are we joking that we have overcapacity? India's total aircraft fleet now at 400 is one-third or one-fourth less than even the Philippines or Indonesia."
He also claimed that high fares could only be stabilised if there were more planes flying on the Indian sky.
Regarding the safety issues flagged by DGCA, Ghosh maintained that the engine removals were carried out in compliance of Airworthiness Directives of the US Federal Aviation Administration. "There has been no grounding of aircraft" as has happened to some other airlines, he said.
On DGCA's findings that IndiGo's investigation procedures were "improper" and that it had closed probe into several incidents either without regulatory approval, Ghosh said the airline submitted Daily Defect Reports to the Airworthiness department of DGCA and "there is 100 per cent reporting of all
Claiming to be India's first airline to implement a Safety Management System, it said "we follow our training, monitoring and safety procedures meticulously with no exceptions. Our Technical Dispatch Reliability is 99.91 per cent making it the airline with the least number of cancellations in India."
Regarding shortage of pilot instructors and examiners and backlog of training, Ghosh said "we have consciously 'over hired' pilots, especially highly trained and experienced ones." The airline currently has 50 Training Captains while
another 44 were in process of being hired or qualified as trainers.