Sunday, November 21, 2021

Extended suspension of international flights impacting financial health of airlines: Vistara

As the pandemic clouds slowly clear, Vistara on Sunday said a prolonged suspension of scheduled international flights to and from India is impacting the financial health of most airlines and also cautioned that it might be too early to conclude that the country's aviation sector is out of the woods.

The full-service carrier, which started flying to eight international destinations during the pandemic, has embraced a "nimble" approach amid the dynamic and unpredictable situation in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as some countries are now witnessing rising infections.

Vistara CEO-designate Vinod Kannan said most predictions about recovery of the aviation industry have been proven wrong in these times of great unpredictability, and it might be too early to say that the Indian aviation industry is completely out of the woods.

On the domestic front, air traffic is nearing pre-COVID-19 levels and grew 70 per cent in October compared with the year-ago period.

"A prolonged suspension of scheduled international operations is definitely impacting the financial health of most airlines, thereby adding to the pressure (on the revenue)," he told PTI.

In an email interview, Kannan, who is currently the airline's chief commercial officer, said that though administration of vaccines across the globe has brought a lot of positivity and hope to the industry, the situation continues to be dynamic and unpredictable.

With continuously evolving travel restrictions in different parts of the world, "recovery of demand in international segment still has a long way to go", he noted.

Scheduled international air services to and from India remain suspended since late March 2020 due to the pandemic. India has air bubble arrangements with more than 25 countries for operating overseas flights.

For now, the suspension is till November 30 and there is no clarity on normalisation as discussions are going on against the backdrop of spike in the number of coronavirus cases in some countries.

21/11/21 PTI/Business

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