Why is Vistara cancelling flights? Top things we know so far



Vistara flight cancellations: Vistara, the joint venture airline between Tata and SIA, faced significant disruptions today, with nearly 50 flights cancelled and substantial delays in over 150 flights across its network. In response, the airline has announced plans to reduce flight operations and deploy wide-body aircraft on domestic routes to manage the backlog of affected passengers.

So, why is Vistara cancelling flights?

  • It seems that the root cause of the Vistara flight cancellations and delays stems from a crisis within Vistara, primarily due to a shortage of pilots.
  • Reports suggest that pilots are protesting against the terms of a new contract introduced by the airline ahead of its merger with Air India. This protest has resulted in pilots collectively taking sick leave, prompted by concerns over the revised salary structure proposed by Vistara.
  • Unlike other airlines like IndiGo, where sick leave can be taken throughout the year, Vistara pilots are required to utilize their sick leave entitlements by the end of March. Consequently, many pilots have opted to take sick leave simultaneously, resulting in disruptions to flight operations.

What is the Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA doing?

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has instructed Vistara to provide daily updates on flight cancellations and delays.
Additionally, the regulator has mandated the airline to adhere to regulations concerning passenger facilities during denied boarding, flight cancellations, and delays, including provisions for refunds and compensation. Vistara is required to furnish this information to the DGCA as well.
Ministry of Civil Aviation has said that it is monitoring the situation of Vistara flight cancellations. “However, flight operations are managed by Airlines themselves. Airlines have to comply with DGCA norms to ensure passenger facilitation in case of cancellation or delay of flights,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation has said.

Why are Vistara pilots upset?

  • Vistara pilots are expressing dissatisfaction with the terms of a new contract set to take effect in April. Under the revised agreement, pilots will receive a fixed salary for 40 hours instead of the previous 70 hours, in line with a standardized salary structure across Tata group airlines. This change is expected to negatively impact the earnings of several first officers.
  • Worries among pilots also revolve around potential implications for their seniority, a critical factor for career advancement post-merger. Seniority, determined by a pilot’s length of service with a specific airline, influences various aspects such as base preference, aircraft assignment, and career progression.
  • Despite assurances regarding the establishment of a unified seniority list, there is uncertainty among Vistara pilots about retaining their seniority post-merger, particularly as Air India has been actively recruiting pilots.

Also Read | Vistara flight disruptions: DGCA steps in, asks airline to submit daily reports & take care of customers

Vistara Issues Ultimatum to Pilots

The Vistara management had issued a warning to pilots, stating that failure to accept the new contract by the end of March 15 would result in forfeiting a one-time payout and indicate disinterest in joining Air India post-merger, according to documents reviewed by ET.
Acknowledging the recent flight disruptions, jointly owned by Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, Vistara issued a statement yesterday, citing cancellations and delays due to crew unavailability. The airline spokesperson assured ongoing efforts to address the challenges and apologized for any inconvenience caused to passengers.
The airline is currently undergoing a merger with Air India after its privatization, with Singapore Airlines acquiring a 25.1% stake in the previously state-controlled carrier. As both Vistara and its pilots navigate the proposed changes amid the merger transition, the situation remains dynamic.



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