CHENNAI: In a body blow for SpiceJet, travel agents were sent an advisory by their associations not to book any tickets for the beleaguered airline, even as oil companies refused to refuel the carrier’s planes on Tuesday.
A communication was sent by various travel agent associations to individual members by e-mail and a more formal form of stoppage was expected on Tuesday. “We have stopped booking tickets for SpiceJet as of this morning,” said a travel agent based in Chennai, also a member of the IATA Travel Agents Association. This new wave of turbulence comes amid SpiceJet COO Sanjiv Kapoor trying to gain some headway with bookings by urging the DGCA to lift its 30-day booking curb, in a meeting on Monday.
However, with mounting loans, a reduced fleet and no foreseeable business prospects in the months to come, aviation industry insiders believe that this will be their ‘Kingfisher moment’. Once the darling of travel booking sites like Yatra and MakeMyTrip, SpiceJet has always spelt trouble for travel agents as they cut into commissions and reduced margins by offering direct low-cost flights. These travel portals continued to offer bookings for SpiceJet flights as of Tuesday afternoon, but in a surprise twist, the airline’s website itself isn’t following suit.
Bookings to fly anywhere on the SpiceJet network are currently down and though fares and offers are still being displayed, all attempts to book a flight ticket on their network proved futile.
When Express visited their counter at the airport, staff there exasperatedly said that their “hands were full with rescheduling” and that no future bookings would be possible at the moment.
After a round of consultation with the DGCA, the Civil Aviation Ministry asked the regulator to back off and allow the airline to book tickets till March 31, 2015. However, bookings on the website are still not open and the counters are a place best left alone for a while.