Air India Express cuts 40 daily flights until May 13, travelers may have to pay extra on other airlines

NEW DELHI: The challenges surrounding the merger of Tata group airlines continue unabated. Budget Air India Express – which operates 350-400 daily flights, including over 250 domestic and 120 international – is currently canceling around 40 daily flights till May 13.

In a repeat of last month’s problems at full-service Vistara, which is merging with Air India, more than 300 AI Express cabin crew began calling in sick starting Tuesday afternoon , forcing the cancellation of more than 90 flights until Wednesday evening. The airline on Wednesday began sending termination letters to crew members who called in sick.


With more than 80% occupancy of planes these days, around 13,000 passengers were affected by the cancellations.

The airline asked passengers scheduled to fly Wednesday “to check whether their flight is affected before traveling” to the airport. “The situation is dynamic as senior cabin crew members call in sick at the last minute, just before flying. Although we are proactively canceling flights until next Monday, the actual number may differ depending on crew participation, we are minimizing international disruptions and less than 20% of cancellations will be for our overseas flights,” airline sources said.

“Customers can visit the Flight Status section on our website for real-time information. If their flight is canceled or delayed beyond 3 hours, they can opt for a full refund or reschedule it for a later date without any charges on Tia on WhatsApp (+91 6360012345) or on,” a spokesperson said.

AI Express cancellations at the height of summer are bound to affect travelers as capacity is already limited: more than 75 IndiGo planes are grounded due to broken Pratt & Whitney engines, GoAir is grounded, Struggling SpiceJet operates few flights and deliveries of new planes from crisis-hit Airbus and Boeing have been slower than expected.

While Air India Express is offering “full refund or free rescheduling”, affected passengers may be required to purchase last-minute tickets on other airlines at very high rates, especially during weekends.

The Aviation Ministry has asked the airline to submit a report on the mass cancellation and “resolve the issues expeditiously”. The airline has been advised “to ensure facilities to passengers that meet DGCA standards”, a senior ministry official said. The airline said its “teams (are) trying to minimize any inconvenience caused to our customers.” However, complaints from passengers are pouring in on social networks.