Covid-19: Airlines offer schemes to boost passenger confidence
According to sources, airlines have been struggling to fly more than 60% of their total seat capacity after domestic flight operations resumed on May 25Updated: Sep 17, 2020 10:57 IST
In their efforts to boost passenger confidence, airlines are introducing schemes to attract a higher footfall.
IndiGo recently announced two free round-trip tickets to every millionth passenger. The country’s largest airline is the only one to come up with such a scheme.
The airline said that it is flying one million passengers every fortnight across over 50 destinations. It also claimed that it receives 70,000 passenger bookings across 500 locations daily.
William Boulter, chief commercial officer, IndiGo, said, “We are consistently working towards strengthening consumer confidence in air travel and, as a fruit of our labour, close to 3 million passengers have already chosen IndiGo for their journey post the lockdown.”
Former defence pilot and aviation expert Vipul Saxena said, “This scheme will only be able attract passengers up to a certain extent. Passenger load will actually increase only once airfares come down.”
This is not the first time that an airline has come up with a scheme to attract passengers. GoAir, IndiGo and Vistara, in July, had allowed passengers to book seats adjacent to theirs at a discounted price so as to feel safe, which came after aviation consultancies pointed out the need to build confidence among passengers to opt for air travel.
GoAir has also tied up with an application (available on mobile phones) to connect passengers to doctors who could guide them about travel during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and on health precautions to be taken during their travel. In August, SpiceJet announced a five-day sale on its one-way ticket and offered tickets at Rs 899. The airline, however, was asked to stop the sale by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
According to sources, airlines have been struggling to fly more than 60% of their total seat capacity after domestic flight operations resumed on May 25.
According to a survey in June by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association of the world’s airlines, there is a major problem in gaining passenger confidence now. Findings of the survey revealed that 60% of respondents in March had said that they would return to air travel in a couple of months. Focusing on the need to regain passengers confidence, IATA said that more than 50% of air travellers said that they would resume air travel only after at least six months. Whereas, 95% of the respondents said that they would return to air travel in a year.
Industry experts unanimously said that beside a fear of the pandemic, mandatory quarantine is another factor that is keeping travellers away.
Industry expert Mohan Ranganathan’s opinion, however, differed. He said, “When airlines are struggling to fly more than half of their total seat occupancy, how does an airline think that passengers will be ready to travel only for a couple of free tickets? Also, it is only applicable to every millionth passenger, which clearly means that it’s going to be like a lottery system. No educated person will fall for such a scheme.”
A former DGCA official said, “Airlines need to increase their efforts for providing smooth and safe travel rather than coming up with such schemes. Not more than a handful of people will opt to fly for free tickets during this phase.”