Domestic flights may reach up to 60% capacity by Diwali this year: Puri
The aviation sector is among the hardest-hit due to restrictions imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.Updated: Jul 16, 2020 17:34 IST
Union aviation minister Hardeep Puri said that he hopes the number of domestic flights will reach 55 – 60 percent of the pre-coronavirus levels by Diwali this year.
The domestic aviation industry is facing financial losses due to the two-month long suspension of air travel followed by restricted resumption of domestic air traffic due to the impact of coronavirus.
“We are assuming that by Diwali this year, we will have 55-60 percent of pre-Covid domestic flights operating in India,” said Puri.
According to a report released earlier this year by aviation consultancy firm Capa India, the industry’s losses in the first quarter of 2020 could run up to $3-3.6 billion due to covid-19-related disruptions.
It had predicted that the four months from June to September will be a critical phase for the Industry. It predicted that some carriers may even struggle to cover their variable costs up until the end of second quarter of financial year 2021 due to market conditions and the “constraints” imposed by possible social distancing requirements.
A total of 1,633 flights operated on July 15, carrying about 1,40,000 passengers. Initially, after the resumption of flights, the government had allowed airlines to operate at a maximum of 33 percent of their full capacity, in proportion to the market share and capacity they had in the pre-Covid market. The government had also capped fares for seven domestic sectors.
The scenario of international travel returning to its previous levels also remains uncertain as underlined by the minister. He said bilateral arrangements between countries allowing passenger traffic remains the best hope till the crisis is over.
“I think answer will lie through bilateral air bubbles which will carry a possible number of people but under defined conditions as countries are still imposing entry restrictions including India,” he said.
Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal said that as on July 13, Air India and Air India Express operated 1,103 flights, bringing back 2,08,000 Indians under Vande Bharat Mission.