It might sound strange, but in December last year when SpiceJet was fighting a survival battle that led to a series of flight cancellations and disgruntled passengers, it was its closest rival GoAir that recorded the highest number of complaints from travellers.
The number of passenger complaints against GoAir stood at 6.2 per 10,000 passengers, double SpiceJet's 3.1, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA. In comparison, national carrier Air India recorded 2.1 complaints per 10,000 passengers in its domestic operations and AirAsia India, 1.8. Mumbai-based GoAir flew about 6.1 lakh passengers in December. This translates into some 371 complaints, or 28 per cent of the total passenger-related complaints filed (1,322) against all airlines.
The higher complaints against GoAir are not a one-off event. In the three months ended December, the number of complaints against GoAir have been consistently high. In November and October, for instance, the number of complaints stood at 4.2 and 4.4 for every 10,000 passengers that flew with the low-cost carrier.
GoAir's spokesperson says the airline is consumer-centric and has taken feedback and complaints seriously. "In the past quarter, we have received tremendous response from our customers due to various offers and discounts that we have announced. This may have led to some undesirable variation in the quality of service. We have evaluated our system and taken appropriate measures to address such issues. We are prompt enough to get back to our customers and give them the best quality of service that they deserve and expect."
In terms of nature of complaints in December against GoAir, issues related to customer services (187) topped the list followed by flight problems (41) and baggage-related complaints (34). There were 104 'other' complaints as well. The airline was, however, prompt in addressing those grievances - it closed all the complaints in the same month. In comparison, Air India (domestic) could close only 150 of the total 255 complaints filed against it.
For calendar year 2014, GoAir had the lowest market share of 9.2 per cent among low-cost carriers that include SpiceJet and market leader IndiGo. The airline had registered net profits in the past two financial years - Rs 104 crore in 2012/13 and over Rs 5 crore in 2013/14 - and is expected to post substantial net profits in the current financial year.
GoAir has aggressive plans to increase its connectivity by flying to new cities and adding fresh capacities to the existing cities once it expands its fleet. The airline has 19 Airbus 320s at the moment. Starting April 2016, it will start getting deliveries of 72 Airbus A320 neos in a phased manner.
GoAir has to ensure that expansion should not come at the cost of unsatisfied passengers.
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