Civil Aviation

COVID-19: Here are 10 ways how the pandemic bled India aviation sector

File Photo: India’s civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic and the lock down announced by the Narendra Modi government has bled the Civil Aviation industry in India.

The government today told Parliament of India that the impact of the COVID-19 lock down was so severe on the aviation industry that the domestic travel had reduced by 80 per cent during the March-July 2020 period. The revenue of Indian carriers too reduced by 86 per cent during the same period.

Here are the top 10 ways how the Civil Aviation industry reached the brink:

India’s Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri told the Lok Sabha, the lower house in the bicameral legislative system, in a written reply to questions from members that based on the information received from the stakeholders, the impact of COVID-19 on the Civil Aviation sector were as under:

  1. There have been regulatory restrictions on flight operations in domestic and international sectors leading to severe curtailment in operations and sub-optimal aircraft utilisation.
  2. The domestic traffic has reduced from 58,530,038 during March-July 2019 to 12,084,952 during March-July 2020.
  3. The international traffic has reduced from 9,345,469 during March-July in 2019 to 1,155,590 during March-July 2020.
  4. The revenue of Indian carriers has reduced from Rs 25,517 crore (~$3.5 billion) during April-June 2019 to Rs 3,651 crore (~$500 million)during April-June 2020.
  5. The revenue of airport operators has reduced from Rs 5,745 crore (~$780 million) during April-June 2019 to Rs 894 crore (~$122 million) during April-June 2020.
  6. In respect of Air India, the total revenue has reduced from Rs 7,066 crore (~$960 million) during April-June 2019 to Rs. 1,531 crore (~$208 million) during April-June 2020.
  7. The employment at airlines has reduced from 74,887 as on Mar. 31, 2020 to 69,589 as on July 31, 2020.
  8. The employment at airports has reduced from 67,760 as on Mar. 31, 2020 to 64,514 as on July 31, 2020.
  9. The employment at ground handling agencies has reduced from 37,720 as on Mar. 31, 2020 to 29,254 as on July 31, 2020.
  10. The employment at cargo operators has reduced from 9,555 as on Mar. 31, 2020 to 8,538 as on July 31, 2020.

The revenue earned by Air India and Air India Express from ‘Vande Bharat Mission‘ flights upto Aug. 31, 2020 are Rs. 2,021 crore (~$275 million) and Rs. 415 crore (~$56 million) respectively.

The trend in domestic traffic is as follows:

  1. The domestic traffic has reduced from 58,530,038 during March-July2019 to 12,084,952 during March-July 2020.
  2. Domestic commercial flights were started from May 25, 2020 in a calibrated manner with flights limited to 33 per cent of the approved summer schedule of the year 2020. This was gradually increased to 45 per cent on Jun. 26, 2020 and then to 60 per cent on Sep. 2, 2020.
  3. During the period Mar. 25, 2020 to Aug. 31, 2020, over 7,040,000 passengers have flown in over 77,547 scheduled domestic flights.
  4. The number of departing flights per day have increased from 428 on May 25, 2020 to 1,233 on Sep. 6, 2020.
  5. The number of departing passengers have increased from 30,550 on May 25, 2020 to 1,41,992 on Sep. 6, 2020.

All efforts have been made to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the aviation sector. Some of the measures taken to support the aviation sector include:

  1. Operation of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) flights were allowed without the above-mentioned restrictions.
  2. Exclusive air-links or ‘Air Bubbles‘ have been established with countries, which include Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, France, Germany, Qatar, Maldives, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States. These are temporary arrangements aimed at restarting international passenger services while regular international flights remain suspended due to COVID-19.
  3. Promoted private investments in existing and new airports through the Public-Private-Partnership route.
  4. Regularly engaged with foreign aircraft lessors and financiers to ensure that there were no premature withdrawals of leased aircraft from Indian carriers.
  5. Adequate care taken to ensure that cargo terminals at all major airports were operational, whenever required.
  6. Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat mission, Goods and Services Tax on Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) has been reduced to five per cent and contracting of work to Indian MROs incentivised with zero-rated GST from Apr. 1, 2020.
  7. Encouraging Indian carriers to increase their share in international aircargo traffic.
  8. Route rationalisation in the Indian airspace in coordination with Indian Air Force for efficient airspace management, shorter routes and reduced fuel burn.

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