Tuesday, April 20, 2021

COVID-19 Second Wave Stalls Indian Aviation Industry's Hope for Recovery During Summer Schedule

COVID-19’s second wave in India has cast a dark shadow on the Indian aviation sector. Airlines were looking at a good summer recovery but the rising number of cases and the consequent restrictions, curfews have led to a sharp decline in passenger traffic. Industry experts believe the coming weeks could be a big setback to airlines which had just about started a gradual journey to pre-Covid numbers.

Air Vistara feels good that this time around, at least, there’s no shutdown of aviation operations like last time, but recovery to pre-Covid numbers has been delayed.

“We have had a setback in the last few days if not weeks considering the rising number of cases in the country have seen a decline. However we do recognise that air travel is very safe, it is something that we are very confident about. Air travel is still permitted and we are thankful to the ministry and the govt for this. We saw growth through January and February and we were looking at going back to pre-Covid numbers this summer, but it may not materialise because of the second wave,” said Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Air Vistara.

In a meeting with Ministry of Civil Aviation last week, airlines urged the government for a financial assistance package for the aviation sector. There has been no financial aid from the govt for airlines since the pandemic began last year.

India’s daily domestic passenger traffic is now below 2,00,000 for the first time since November, 2020. Industry sources say bookings are down by at least 50% and some airlines are bleeding. The present 80% cap on domestic flights is unlikely to be extended to 100% and could be brought down to 60% due to fall in demand amidst rising Covid cases. Sources say most airlines asked for the cap to be reduced instead of being increased to full capacity.

20/04/21 News18.com

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