‘It may take 18-24 months to recover from crisis’: IndiGo CEO
However, the risk of transmission of Covid-19 from one passenger to another passenger on board is very low, making flying the safest way to travel, Ronojoy Dutta said.Updated: Jun 29, 2020 07:40 IST
India’s aviation industry may take up to two years to recover from the turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, said IndiGo, the country’s top domestic airline. The budget carrier is focusing on controlling costs and maintaining liquidity to tide over the crisis, CEO Ronojoy Dutta said in an email interview. He said a recovery would also depend upon how soon other nations reopen their skies. Edited excerpts:
Leisure flying has taken a back seat. Is safety the biggest factor that is keeping people from flying?
We can all agree to the fact that due to the pandemic situation, business and leisure travel may take a back seat for some time until the virus subsides to a great extent. However, the risk of transmission of Covid-19 from one passenger to another passenger on board is very low, making flying the safest way to travel. The reasons for this are that the customers sit facing forward and not toward each other, seat backs provide a barrier, the use of HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters and the direction of the air flow on board (from ceiling to floor), and the limited movement onboard aircraft once seated add to the onboard protection. Furthermore, as a responsible airline, we have also taken steps to ensure our passengers and crew members are safe while onboard.
When will industry return to pre-Covid-19 level in India in terms of travel demand?
There have been a lot of estimations that predict the recovery of the aviation industry, which has been hit hard by this pandemic. We believe it may take 18-24 months to recover from the current situation to come back to the pre-Covid-19 levels of travel demand, also depending upon how other countries resume international operations. The international travel demand will largely depend on how different countries are placed in terms of Covid-19. We expect the aviation industry to slowly and steadily rise even stronger. Furthermore, what will drive this recovery is consumer confidence in airlines .
Can you elaborate on the costs measures initiated by IndiGo?
Amid the crisis situation, we strive to manage not for profitability or growth but for liquidity. Our focus is on reducing costs, exploring alternate sources of revenue, and building consumer and employee confidence. We are negotiating better prices and terms with partners, staggering pay cuts, placing our discretionary expenses on hold and deferment of certain capital expenditure projects to reduce costs. We are replacing our old A-320ceos with new A-320neos to enhance cost efficiency and freezing supplementary rentals.