Low-cost carrier IndiGo experienced challenges in operations across India on Saturday, with about 900 flights being delayed due to the unavailability of cabin crew and airline staff. 

The airline, which operates about 1600 flights each day, delivered its worst on-time performance on Saturday with over 50% of its flights facing staff-related issues, according to a report by Times Now. 

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked IndiGo to provide an explanation for the same. 

“Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has taken strong cognizance against IndiGo and sought a clarification/ explanation behind the massive flight delays nationwide,” DGCA officials told ANI.

According to an airline official, the mass absence occurred due to sick leaves. 

“The phase-2 of Air India’s recruitment drive was conducted on Saturday and majority of IndiGo’s cabin crew members who took sick leave went for it,” the official told PTI. 

This isn’t the first time that IndiGo has faced employee-related issues. From impolite demeanour with passengers to the silent rebellion of mass sick leaves, the airline’s employees have acted out in several ways to express their discontentment.

Earlier in June, Bollywood actor Pooja Hegde accused IndiGo employee Vipul Nakashe of misbehaving on board. 

“Absolutely arrogant, ignorant and threatening tone used with us for no reason. This was truly appalling,” Hegde wrote on Twitter on June 9.

Hegde’s poor experience with IndiGo came just a month after the airline experienced backlash for not letting a disabled adolescent board one of its planes in Ranchi. Following the incident, the carrier was fined Rs. 5 lakh by the DGCA. 

“A more compassionate handling would have smoothened the nerves, calmed the child and would have obviated the need for the extreme step resulting in denied boarding to the passengers,” the regulator said in May.

In the month of April, The Sunday Guardian spoke to furious IndiGo pilots who had suffered “unjust” salary cuts even after the airline began operating at full capacity after the COVID-19 pandemic. A commanding pilot, who wished to remain anonymous during the interview, said that the aviation company treated employees as “bonded labourers”.

“When the airline has started operations in full capacity and we pilots are doing the exact number of hours of flying as in pre-Covid level, why would we take a salary which is almost 22% less than what we were getting back in 2019-2020. We have raised this issue with the management, but what we got in return was like a slap on our faces. We have been reduced to bonded labourers,” the pilot said.

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After receiving no redressal from the management, several pilots decided to go on a mass sick leave. The move resulted in the suspension of 10 IndiGo pilots.

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“The suspension was absolutely uncalled for. We are demanding what has been due to us. If the company feels that they can threaten us with suspension like this, then they are wrong. We will not budge unless a full restoration of our salaries is given to us. The meagre 8% hike was an eyewash since this issue had gained media glare,” another pilot told The Sunday Guardian in April.

With all these recent incidents, Saturday’s nationwide flight delay hints at something much larger, a deeper problem that cannot be brushed aside as coincidental unavailability.