Domestic flights may not see immediate rise

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on June 29, 2020

A view of an Airport in India (Representative Image)   -  Bijoy Ghosh

A combination of restrictions at various airports, sluggish passenger demand and States re-imposing the lockdown will make it difficult for domestic airlines to immediately add more flights despite the government enhancing domestic flying to 45 per cent.

On Friday the government decided to enhance domestic flying to 45 per cent from the 33 per cent level which was allowed when domestic flying restarted on May 25.

Terming the government’s decision to enhance domestic capacity to 45 per cent as “the right decision” as opening of the economy needs enhanced connectivity, Kapil Kaul, Chief Executive Officer and Director, CAPA India, said the “continuing challenges in various States about the lockdown will further hurt demand make it challenging for the airlines especially with a cap on air fares and floor that has been introduced.”

A spokesperson for Vistara added that while capacity is now at 45 per cent there are restrictions at various airports and demand also remains sluggish especially with more States imposing curfew of varying degrees.

Other domestic airlines, which refused to comment on record, added that issues such as restrictions by State governments make it difficult for them to take an immediate decision on increasing domestic flights.

For example, Maharashtra has extended the lockdown in the State till July 31. There are also media reports that the Telangana government will be imposing a lockdown in Hyderabad as there has been a spike in the number of positive cases in the city in the last couple of days.

A message sent to DGCA seeking details of the increase in the number of flights and to which cities following an enhancement in flights to 45 per cent by domestic airlines remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

When flying restarted on May 25, the government had allowed airlines to operate 33 per cent of the flights. This saw about 400 flights a day being operated with IndiGo operating a 210 of these SpiceJet 81, AirAsia 38 and Vistara and Air India 20 each.

Published on June 29, 2020

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