The temporary suspension of Jet Airways' operations will complete one month on May 17. The hustle and bustle of the domestic airports, especially in the metro cities, has come to a halt because the sudden departure of the oldest private airline from the market has left a void of around 750 slots.
As many as 766 slots of Jet Airways were vacant in the country, with nearly 55 percent or 420 of these slots at the airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Nagpur, sources close to the development told CNBC-TV18.
While the slot allocation committee has been working on distributing vacant slots of Jet Airways to other carriers since March 20 on an ad-hoc basis for an interim period, only 479 slots have been allocated so far, sources said. Out of these, less than 40% are operational so far.
This means that, against a fall in the market capacity of 766 slots of Jet Airways, capacity equivalent to around 180 slots has been restored with the help of other airlines but there is a still a humungous gap of around 590 slots, non-operational or unallocated, CNBC-TV18 has learnt.
Out of the slots allocated so far, SpiceJet received 130 slots, with its maximum slots at Mumbai airport at 68 out of the 214 vacated by Jet Airways, CNBC-TV18 has learnt.
6E carrier IndiGo bagged 127 slots so far in three phases. For IndiGo, the maximum gains have been at the Delhi airport with around 38 out of 118 slots. Vistara has finished third with 110 slots, almost 44% of these at Mumbai airport.
GoAir and AirAsia India were allotted 44 and 42 slots, respectively. National carrier Air India finished sixth in the race with 24 slots and its regional arm Alliance Air having received 2 slots.
Remember, slots are being allocated by a committee comprising officials from regulator DGCA, Airports Authority of India and private airport operators. The committee meets twice a month to allocate new slots on an ad-hoc basis.
Airlines are required to submit plan on aircraft induction, crew availability at least three working days ahead of these bi-monthly meetings but priority, however, is given to those airlines which are adding capacity or aircraft, serving virgin and underserved routes, withdrawing aircraft from adequately served routes, and proposed date of commencement of operations will also be considered before allotting slots.
As reported by CNBC-TV18, earlier, slots are being allocated till July or for a period of three months starting May 1. This arrangement can be extended, but only on a monthly basis, until end of Summer 2019 season or October 26.
As per advisory by DGCA, airlines must keep in mind that this transfer is for an interim period, for now, and slots can be withdrawn with a 30-day prior notice after July. In any case, slots have to be operationalized within 7 days of proposed commencement date else those will be withdrawn and as a penalty, that airline will get the lowest priority for future allocation
“It is a situation which will take some time to get better. Jet Airways was operating around 120 aircraft until a few months ago, hence a gap of around 600 flights a day is hard to fulfil so easily,” one of the sources said.