Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022
Outlook for Brands

Indian Airlines Are Safe; Don’t Fall For Rumours

An interesting ‘survey’ recently caught eyeballs. It claimed that 86% passengers are avoiding booking flights on India’s top three airlines – SpiceJet, IndiGo and Air India – due to safety reasons!

Representational Image
Representational Image

There is always a story behind the fear mongering, don’t fall for it

An interesting ‘survey’ recently caught eyeballs. It claimed that 86% passengers are avoiding booking flights on India’s top three airlines – SpiceJet, IndiGo and Air India – due to safety reasons!

That’s not all.
Another 18% said they avoid booking GoAir, 12% are averse to booking on AirAsia, 6% on Vistara as they think these airlines are “unsafe”! Which makes one wonder whether there is any airline in India that is “safe” to travel on?

Should passengers stop flying as all Indian carriers are “unsafe” as the ‘survey’ portrays? The surveyor further claimed that many of the respondents chose more than one options in the survey and hence the total does not equate to 100% signalling that many are of the view that multiple airlines in India are “unsafe”.

Another noteworthy trend, around same time,  was the sudden tweeting by influencers when a SpiceJet flight was diverted to Karachi last week.

A quick check revealed that one of the marketing gurus, famous for his paid tweets for his millions of followers, had all of a sudden become very concerned on aviation safety that very day. He had never ever tweeted on matters relating to aviation and was in London, but between attending concerts and sports events, he suddenly realised that SpiceJet diversion to Karachi was more important than anything else.

Some of the other influencers including the son of a politician who is under investigation by multiple agencies and a woke writer-activist famous for her hit-job tweets, too had never tweeted on matters relating to aviation ever before. Similar tweets with similar surprisingly similar wordings from multiple influencers caught one’s attention.

So why this sudden attention on one airline that diverted out of abundant precaution – something encouraged by aviation regulators and pilots across the globe?
Who stands to gain from branding all Indian airlines as “unsafe” and pointing fingers and pressurising the DGCA to act? Who is fanning this fire? The incumbents struggling with their own issues do not gain anything by branding themselves as “unsafe”. Then who gains from this scare mongering? Your guess is as good as mine.

The kind of incidents being talked about are routine across industry and does not compromise on safety & airworthiness, an airline official mentions. 
In fact, the Director General Civil Aviation recently told the media that, “On average about 30 incidents do take place, including go-around, missed approaches, diversion, medical emergencies, weather, technical and bird hits. Most of them have no safety implications.”

Before pointing fingers at anyone one should remember that India has a robust safety mechanism. There have been no major incidents in the recent past. The DGCA has been audited by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the United States FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) which keeps a hawk eye on Indian carriers.

It is, however, well known that in a fiercely competitive environment like India, airlines can rise only if an incumbent falls. We saw it when Kingfisher and Jet Airways were grounded.
Sensationalism and fear mongering sell. Headlines like flyers shun so and so airline catch the reader attention and the media unknowingly falls in a trap and plays into the hands of corporates.

Here is a reality check with airlines if indeed flyers were avoiding them. SpiceJet said it was flying with record load factors (occupancy) and one can cross check the DGCA numbers for all airlines. Other airlines too said there was absolutely no impact on their bookings.

“We have had the highest occupancy among all Indian carriers for seven years now. We have been running a safe airline for 17 years. The DGCA had only last month audited all our aircraft and found them to be absolutely safe,” a SpiceJet official said.

“Safety experts would corroborate that a bird hit isn’t the airline’s fault. It happens all the time with all airlines. Similarly, a crack on the outer layer of the windshield isn’t a safety hazard as there are multiple layers of windshield that allow the aircraft to carry on with its journey,” the airline said.

“We are the largest airline in the country and have been flying with healthy load factors for many years. This scare mongering is very unfortunate,” said an IndiGo official.

“Our flights are absolutely safe. We are an IATA-IOSA certified airline. SpiceJet successfully completed the meticulous audit program for recertification in October 2021. We have been regularly audited by DGCA. All flights of SpiceJet are conducted in compliance with the applicable regulations of the DGCA Civil Aviation Regulations on the subject.”

Airlines said they won’t comment on bogus surveys and give them credibility. “Such tactics have been used often. That’s the only way you attract flyers,” said an industry insider.

But why create a scare and portray others as unsafe when you yourself will be one of them very soon?