The Centre on Thursday allowed domestic airlines to ramp up their operations to 80 per cent of pre-Covid approved capacity from the existing 70 per cent stipulation. This will help airlines in adding more flights on existing as well as new sectors as flight operations inch towards normalcy.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that on November 30, 2.52 lakh passengers travelled on domestic flights compared with 30,000 that travelled on May 25 — the day domestic passenger operations recommenced after staying shut for nearly two months due to Covid-19 lockdown.
Upon resumption of flights in May, the airlines were allowed to operate not more than 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. On June 26, this was increased to 45 per cent and on September 2, it was further increased to 60 per cent. On November 11, it was increased to 70 per cent.
India’s largest carrier IndiGo said Wednesday that it had touched the 1,000 flights a day milestone. The airline said it has already operated 1,00,000 flights between May 25, 2020 and November 11, 2020, including all domestic and international flights. Currently the airline is operating between 100 – 130 scheduled flights from three key metro cities – Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. “We are currently operating at around 70% of our pre-covid capacity and we hope that the growth will continue into 2021,” IndiGO CEO Ronojoy Dutta said.
Experts have pointed out to the containment of Covid19 spread as one of the key factors in recovery of domestic flights. “The recovery in domestic passenger traffic is contingent on the following five factors – containment of the spread of Covid-19, which in turn is dependent on the development of a vaccine and its wide availability, willingness of consumers to undertake leisure travel, recovery in macroeconomic growth, which in turn impacts consumer sentiments and ability to travel, Central and various state government-mandated travel restrictions and quarantine norms, and recovery in business travel,” ratings agency ICRA said in a research note.
ICRA expects profitability of the Indian aviation industry to be adversely impacted in 2020-201 due to lower revenues and high fixed costs. It sees a combined net loss of Rs 21,000 crore for the fiscal year, compared with a net loss of Rs 12,700 crore recorded during 2019-20, with the industry debt level exceeding Rs 50,000 crore.
“The impact of the pandemic will be more profound and last longer on international travel compared to domestic travel. In addition to the above factors determining the recovery in passenger traffic, the recovery in international travel is also contingent on the opening up of scheduled international operations by the Government of India, the macroeconomic shock to the global economy and the Government-mandated travel restrictions and quarantine norms of various countries,” it added.
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