KHALEEJ TIMES, Thursday, Mar 14, 2019 | Rajab 7, 1440
Flydubai to cancel up to 15 flights daily; will air fares rise?
Airfares are expected to go up in the coming weeks due to the grounding of
hundreds of Boeing 737 Max aircraft by airlines after the crash of an Ethiopian
Airlines plane near Addis Ababa earlier this week.
Due to the grounding of nearly 400 737 Max planes, the seating capacity of
airlines has declined. Hence, some bigger airlines will manage to increase
frequencies but many smaller and medium-sized airlines will have to cancel their
flights, depending on the fleet that they operate.
Airfares will increase in those countries where the airlines were largely
operating 737 Max fleet.
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, says there may be one or two
routes where frequencies may have to be reduced to effectively schedule flights
that could result in a minor fare hike.
He noted that airlines will not want to raise fares to the point where they
alienate their customer base. "I don't see fares rising across the board."
Yasir Wisal, general manager, Al Masa Tours, said airfares could go up in those
countries where a large fleet consists of 737 Max.
"Those airlines which will not have aircraft other than 737 Max, will face
severe capacity constraints. So they will have to cancel flights and rent new
aircraft, resulting in spike in airfares in those markets," he said.
Wisal sees Africa, China and Malaysian markets could be more affected than other
markets in the world.
More than a dozen countries -- including the UAE, Oman and Kuwait -- have asked
their airlines to ground Boeing's 737 Max. Dubai's low-cost carrier flydubai
said its fleet of 13 Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft has been grounded.
"With regards to flight cancellations, flydubai will cancel up to 15 flights a
day. The flydubai team is working hard to minimise disruption to its passengers.
Flydubai is directly contacting passengers who are affected. The airline
continues to provide regular updates on Facebook and flydubai.com," the
spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.
Similarly, India's SpiceJet said it had cancelled 14 flights on Wednesday and
will be operating additional flights tomorrow. Of the 76 planes in its fleet, 64
aircraft are in operation.
Lakshmi Anand, operation manager, International Travel Services, said the UAE,
Indian and authorities from other countries have cancelled operations of 737
Max, therefore, the airlines will accommodate passengers in additional flights
and some of the passengers are likely to get refund.
"The booked passengers may not find any difference in the airfare while being
accommodated in other carriers or additional flights since the cost difference
would be borne by the airlines. If the passenger chooses to cancel the booking
on their own then they may face charges. Also the new bookers may find a hike in
the fares for certain period based on the travel seasonality," she said.
Saj Ahmad believes capacity of the airlines will not be impacted as much as
feared as airlines can still cycle in and schedule existing airplanes in their
Ahmad pointed out that it's likely that airlines will offset this capacity
change with normal scheduling that would involve downtime for maintenance or
technical updates. This would result in a broader fleet rotation to mitigate
against the need to raise fares.