Flybig’s Flight Freeze: Northeastern Routes Suffer Amid Operational Pause
Guwahati, November 16: In a significant development impacting air travel in Northeast India, regional airline Flybig has suspended its ATR aircraft operations since November 8. As reported by The Hindu Business Line, this decision comes in the wake of lessors initiating the repossession of aircraft over unpaid dues.
Impact on Northeastern Routes
Flybig, known for its significant role in enhancing regional connectivity under the UDAN scheme, operated three ATR 72-500/600 aircraft in its fleet of five. These aircraft were pivotal in connecting various destinations in the Northeast, including Guwahati, Tezu, Rupsi, Itanagar, Silchar, and Pasighat. The suspension of these operations has led to a notable reduction in flight services from these airports, as observed on flight tracking websites like flightradar24.com.
Government Agreements and Operational Halt
Earlier this year, the Assam government had agreed with Flybig to commence intra-state flight services, promising enhanced connectivity within the state. Routes such as Guwahati-Dibrugarh-Guwahati and Guwahati-Silchar-Guwahati were to be operated daily. However, these flights have not been operational for over a week, adding to the woes of travellers and stakeholders in the region.
Behind the Suspension: Technical and Financial Challenges
The suspension of operations by Flybig is not just a result of financial constraints but also technical difficulties. Gokul Indani, the Chief Financial Officer of Flybig, was quoted by The Hindu Business Line, stating, “Flybig would like to emphasize that current events are a result of our decision to surrender the ATR aircraft due to the aircraft’s technical issues.” He further explained that a global shortage of spare parts severely affected the operational efficiency of their fleet, leading to escalated costs and delays.
The Road Ahead for Flybig
Despite the current challenges, Flybig remains optimistic about resuming operations. Indrani assured, “We promise our loyal customers that we are actively pursuing alternative solutions and hope to resume our operations at the earliest.” This statement reflects the airline’s commitment to overcoming the hurdles and restoring regional services.
The pause in Flybig’s operations marks a significant setback for regional air connectivity in Northeast India, a region that relies heavily on air travel due to its challenging terrain and limited road connectivity.