Scoot hit by multiple flight cancellations, cites ‘operational reasons’ for schedule changes, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Scoot hit by multiple flight cancellations, cites ‘operational reasons’ for schedule changes

More than 30 flights operated by budget carrier Scoot were cancelled over a recent five-day period, which the airline said was due to operational reasons.

From May 2 to 6, 33 Scoot flights were cancelled, according to data from Changi Airport’s website. Some of these flights were travelling to or from Bangkok in Thailand, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Manila in the Philippines.

There was heavy rain on May 4, which delayed 27 flights leaving Changi Airport. Twelve departing and arriving Scoot flights were cancelled that day, based on checks by The Straits Times.

On May 7, two Scoot flights were re-timed and there was no cancellation. One Scoot flight was re-timed on May 8, with no flight cancelled.

In response to ST’s queries on May 6, Scoot – the low-cost arm of Singapore Airlines (SIA) – apologised for changes to some of its flight schedules, which it blamed on “operational reasons”.

“We are working to re-accommodate affected customers onto alternative flights where appropriate and will also continue to provide them assistance where possible,” said the airline, adding that it will give full refunds to those who choose not to continue with their travel plans.

In a Facebook post on May 3, which was later removed, Scoot had also cited “operational reasons” for the re-timing of several flights scheduled for May 3 to 5, May 10 to 12, and May 17 to 19.

The airline added it was progressively informing affected passengers of revised flight times via e-mail and text messages.

Scoot did not elaborate on the operational reasons behind the scheduling changes or provide ST with the number of affected flights.

Aviation analysts told ST that a labour crunch and engine and aircraft issues are possible reasons for such flight cancellations.

Six past and present Scoot cabin crew and pilots spoke to ST this past week on condition of anonymity, because they are not authorised to speak to the media.

A cabin crew member, who has been with Scoot for around two years, said some cabin staff left the airline recently for various reasons, including jumping ship to other airlines or quitting the industry entirely.

A former cabin crew member, who left the airline in April after two years, said cabin crew on standby were called up almost 100 per cent of the time. Crew on standby may be activated for flights at short notice when someone calls in sick.

Another current cabin crew member of more than two years said some crew are not getting enough rest between flights, and this could have resulted in more sick leave applications.

Scoot did not comment on whether a cabin crew shortage was a contributing factor in the flight cancellations.

Mr Mayur Patel, head of Asia at aviation data consultancy OAG, said a manpower shortage has been a significant problem affecting the global aviation industry.

He added that the large number of Scoot flight cancellations in this period was unusual, and cited issues with Pratt & Whitney jet engines as another possible factor.

Scoot previously said inspections for a possible rare manufacturing flaw with the engines – which could lead to the cracking of some engine parts – would affect four of the engines powering its Airbus A320neo fleet. This could force it to adjust some of its flights, the airline added.

Scoot later said three of its A320neos were grounded due to the manufacturing flaws, up from two before.

Mr Patel added that many airlines are revising their flight schedules due to cancellations arising from these engine checks and repairs.

Tax director Girish Naik, 52, was slated to depart from Singapore for Ipoh in Malaysia on April 28 at 6.45am, but was told his Scoot flight had been cancelled only around 5am when he reached Changi Airport.

Although he was offered a seat on the next flight scheduled to leave about five hours later, Mr Girish was annoyed as he had lost “valuable vacation time”, having awoken in the early hours of the morning to catch his original flight.