The coronavirus outbreak is likely to cast a long shadow over India’s aviation industry and normalcy looks tough even after the lockdown lifts.
The coronavirus outbreak is likely to cast a long shadow over India’s aviation industry and normalcy looks tough even after the lockdown lifts. “The impact of travel ban and restriction is expected to be felt even after the lockdown is lifted as travelers would avoid unnecessary travels till the time Covid-19 situation is stabilised,” CARE Ratings said in a report on Tuesday. The airline industry, which is one of the worst hit due to the coronavirus outbreak, started to show signs of weakness as several major airlines announced salary cuts for their employees in the last few weeks. While a domestic carrier returned some of its wet-lease jets to cut costs, a major British airline Flybe has collapsed due to mounting pressures.
With travel restrictions in place, the domestic airlines are reeling under severe financial crunch. India’s biggest airline by passengers carried IndiGo recently said that to deal with the post-lockdown situation, it has decided to temporarily suspend in-flight meal service. IndiGo also said that it will also fill its airport buses to half the capacity for some time. “Majority of airline operators in India were in an aggressive expansion phase with plans of inducting newer advanced planes having higher seat capacities and improved fuel efficiencies but higher lease rentals as well,” the report said. The airlines will now have to see an increase in demand after lockdown lifts to maintain profitability.
Coronavirus has aggravated the issues for a sector which had problems of its own to deal with. For starters, Indian aviation was already under pressure due to technological challenges pertaining to Boeing MAX 737 grounding and P&W engine related issues.
Meanwhile, taking stock of the challenges faced by the airline industry, Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeeo Singh Puri recently said that his “heart goes out” to people who are suffering due to the situation and the government will lift flight restrictions as soon as it is confident that the coronavirus situation is under control.