Air India flight was delayed for one and a half hours on December 13, 2017. The incident is hardly exceptional in India, a country where one in four domestic flights got delayed in 2017. However, this particular flight from Delhi to Vijaywada had India’s aviation minister onboard, causing a stir in the media and ultimately unveiling the deeper problems of India’s aviation.

The reasons for some 90 minute delay of the morning flight vary across different sources; with the Civil Aviation Minister saying via the social media it was the ‘non availability of AI pilot’. Similarly, Hindustan Times quotes sources at Air India explaining that pilots reported late for duty. NDTV reports that the delay was caused by the bad visibility and miscommunication among the airline’s operation wing and ground staff, adding that there was also a problem with a pilot’s airport pass among the causes of the delay.

Whatever the reason of this particular incident, flight delays are far from ordinary in India. Despite the delay tendencies decreasing in 2017, the official data by India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) shows that in August 2017, on-time performance among the Indian carriers varied between 86.6% (IndiGo) and only 65.8% (Jet Airways) at the TOP 4 country’s airports. In comparison, the punctuality rate among all US airlines in July 2017 was 79.72% at one of the country’s busiest Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

In September 2017, the DGCA issued new regulation assigning penalties for unpunctual airlines. It aims defined clear time slot for the pushback and foresaw consequences for the planes that fail to follow the procedure, attempting to avoid manipulations on the ground, that increases the delay rate among both the punctual and the ‘always-late’ airlines.