Wednesday, June 09, 2021

'Believe that the worst is behind us now', says IndiGo's Ronojoy Dutta

IndiGo Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ronojoy Dutta said that the airline believes the worst phase during the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

"We are fit & in great form, ready for the future. Middle of May was the worst period for us, believe that the worst is behind us now," he told CNBC-TV18.

While the airline's revenues and bookings are still linked to the number of Covid cases in India, the CEO of India's largest airline believes that the company has tried to become better at everything they do, during the period of lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

Dutta said that the company's bookings fell from around Rs 100 crores a day pre-COVID to around Rs 15 crore per day in the middle of May and are currently around Rs 28-30 crore a day.

However, he expects the airlines' revenues to be back to around 80% of their pre-COVID levels by the end of the year. Dutta hopes the government will lift all caps on airline capacity and seat fare pricing by the end of July and COVID-19 cases will also drop by then. He also requested the government to lower tax rates for the aviation sector and remove the fare cap on a seating capacity and seat fare pricing.

Dutta said that while seat fares have been slowly rising, the passenger load factor of airlines is still quite low, but is expected to recover soon.

The airlines' international markets, however, are frozen at the moment with COVID-19 cases in India still very high.

"(IndiGo is) anxious for the international market to open up, no visibility yet...We are focussing on the domestic market. Once the Indian numbers come down, other governments will also welcome additional flights," Dutta said, adding the airline was constantly working with the International Air Transport Association for long-term procedures.

Dutta said that Interglobe Aviation Ltd run IndiGo airline is currently focusing on remaining cash positive.

"Have a number in mind w.r.t. minimum cash to be maintained at all times. Communication w.r.t. leave without pay, cutbacks, etc was communicated very well to employees," Dutta said. He added that IndiGo's employees have been very mature with cost-cutting measures.

Speaking about the airline's plans to raise Rs 3,000 crore, Dutta said that the fund raising was not something IndiGo desperately needs but it was to ward off any future shocks.

IndiGo is also looking to phase out the older inefficient aircraft, bringing in Neos & the A-321 planes, which are much more efficient, to drive fuel consumption. The airline's fuel consumption, which is its biggest cost item, is down 10% on year, Dutta said.

09/06/21 Moneycontrol

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