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AirAsia India likely to restart operations with 24 aircraft post lockdown

PTI Mumbai | Updated on April 22, 2020 Published on April 22, 2020

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Budget carrier AirAsia India is likely to resume operations with a fleet of 24 planes post lockdown, according to a source.

Amid financial woes, the airline is also unlikely to induct any new aircraft this fiscal.

A joint venture between Tata Sons and Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad, the Bengaluru-based airline has 29 Airbus A320 planes in the fleet, catering to 21 domestic destinations.

All domestic and international commercial passenger flight operations have been suspended during the lockdown, which was initially imposed from March 25 to April 14 and thereafter extended till May 3.

Soon after the extended date was announced on April 14, some of the Indian carriers announced that they would recommence flight operations in a phased manner from May 4 and had started taking bookings also.The government later directed them not to do so and wait till further orders on the issue.

“The travel demand is not going to come back any time soon. We are expecting initially it would be the stranded people in different state capitals and cities of the country, who have been waiting to return to their original places, will be rushing to the airport whenever lockdown ends and air services are allowed to operate,” said a source from AirAsia India.

Since it would take a lot of time for even the domestic traffic to return to normal, carrying out operations with the entire fleet will not be financially prudent, he said.

“Considering these factors, we are looking to put only 24 aircraft in service with reduced frequencies when we restart operations after the lockdown. And once the traffic starts picking up, we will also ramp up both the fleet and the services,” the source said.

According to a recent survey by global aviation and aerospace consultancy ICF, the aviation industry may take six months to two years to recover from the severe blow dealt by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, AirAsia India had said, “We look forward to resuming our operations soon, once we receive the appropriate approvals. Preparations are underway to implement and strictly adhere to the social distancing guidelines laid out by the government across all facets of our operations as the safety and security of our guests and crew is our top priority.”

The source also said the airline is unlikely to induct any new aircraft this fiscal owing to an expected low demand, “if market dynamics changes and there is any sudden spurt in domestic traffic then it would prefer subleasing from the parent AirAsia Berhad than going for fresh deliveries.”

The airline, which narrowed its losses to Rs 123.35 crore in the December quarter of the previous fiscal, had added nine planes in the fleet to take total number of aircraft to 28 as on December 31, 2019. Since then it has taken delivery of only one aircraft in January this year.

In late January, European aviation major Airbus had announced it was deferring aircraft deliveries to the Indian customers through March 9. However, later in March itself coronavirus pandemic hit the world, bringing the aviation industry to a near halt.

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Published on April 22, 2020
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