Sunday, October 25, 2020

Winter 2020 to begin with 44% fewer domestic flights than last year

 New Delhi: The winter schedule for flights, which comes into effect Sunday, will begin with 44% less domestic connectivity than last winter.

The government has currently capped domestic flights at 60% of the originally approved summer schedule in the pandemic. Accordingly, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has cleared a schedule for 12,983 weekly domestic flights covering 95 airports in winter 2020-21 — down 44.3% from 23,307 in winter 2019-20.

The cap on flights is likely to be raised to 75% shortly as air travel is showing signs of revival. As that happens, the domestic schedule will keep getting enhanced, meaning there will be more flights.

The schedule, approved with the current cap of 60%, has seen maximum drop in weekly domestic flights of SpiceJet — 1,957, down 55% from 4,316 last winter. This is followed by Air India — 1,126, down 50% from last winter’s 2,254; GoAir — 1,203, down 48% from 2,308; IndiGo — 6,006, down 42% from 10,310.

A senior DGCA official said, “The schedule has been approved for Indian scheduled operators at 60% of the capacity as directed by the aviation ministry.”

The current pecking order for top 3 airlines in terms of weekly flights is: IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air India group (AI plus Alliance Air together at 1,736). The two Tata Group airlines — Vistara (852) and AirAsia India (885) — together are neck-to-neck with AI group with 1,737 weekly flights.

The Tata Group is likely to fully acquire AirAsia India by buying out the 49% stake of its Malaysian JV partner. Whether it keeps this airline as a standalone budget carrier or merges it with Vistara remains to be seen.

25/10/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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