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Coronavirus outbreak: GoAir suspends international operations till April 15

By Neha LM Tripathi, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2020 12:14 AM IST

GoAir, the country’s fourth-largest airline by passenger numbers, has suspended all its international operations till April 15 and have offered leave without pay to its employees on a rotational basis. The airline has attributed the sharp decline in air travel due to the coronavirus, as their reason for this decision.

GoAir has a workforce of around 6,000. Sources in the know of the matter said that the airline has asked 35% of its employees from each department to go on unpaid leave for a month.

“We are temporarily suspending all our international operations, starting March 17, 2020, until April 15, 2020. GoAir has also initiated a short term and temporary rotational leave without pay, that will not only help the company counter the short term reduction in capacity, but will also ensure that a cross-section of our employees stays away from the workplace to ensure business continuity. Knowing that this will put a financial burden on the affected employees, and having studied what companies have done in other countries to help guide our plans, this decision was not taken lightly.”

Meanwhile, Air India has curtailed its international operations. “#FlyAI: All pax travelling to UK & Europe, may kindly note that in view of DGCA instructions regarding travel and visa restrictions related to #COVID2019, all flights to/from UK & Europe will operate only till 18th March 2020 & will remain suspended from 19th to 31st March 2020,” Air India tweeted. IndiGo spokesperson on Tuesday said, “As per the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) advisory to restrict international traffic from Turkey and Malaysia, IndiGo will be cancelling its flights between Delhi-Istanbul and Chennai-Kuala Lumpur from March 18, 2020 until March 31, 2020. The airline has cancelled flights between Bangalore-Kuala Lumpur until March 31, 2020 and Delhi-Kuala Lumpur until April 30, 2020.” With global travel bans due to the pandemic coronavirus, many airlines across the world are likely to suffer huge losses. According to a recent report, domestic traffic is expected to see around 50% negative growth until June.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) on Tuesday said that their airline will operate only 50% of the capacity. The airline’s chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong said, “We have lost a large amount of our traffic in a short time and it will not be viable for us to maintain our current network. The SIA group must be prepared for a long period of difficulty.”

With the fall in passenger volume, the seat factor of the airlines could see a sharp 50-60% decline over the next three months, stated Acuite Rating and Research report released on March 14.

Aviation think tank, Centre for Asia Aviation (CAPA), has warned that most airlines across the world will go bankrupt if the governments do not take coordinated action.

DGCA guidelines

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has come up with precautionary measures against Covid- 19 for airlines and crew members. DGCA asked all the airlines to disinfect and deep clean their aircraft at least once in 24 hours, and that all the aircraft will be subject to such deep cleaning after they return from an international trip

All airlines are also asked to stock hand sanitiser in sufficient quantities in the aircraft and place them in common areas like lavatories (where soaps too will be available) / galleys

The DGCA also asked airlines to ensure that one or more universal protection kits should be made available, which should be used to protect the crew members who assist potential infectious contents

Airlines have also been asked to display ‘dos and don’ts’ in prominent places as information to passengers and staff members

DGCA has also asked the airlines to make personal protective equipment (PPEs) crew members in sufficient quantity while interacting with passengers which should be minimum.

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