The aviation industry facing “one of the most difficult times”; vaccines key to recovery in demand: CEO of Vistara
Vistara, which started operations over six years ago, has made “some temporary adjustments and changes” to its short-term plans but is focused on “protecting all jobs” within the airline, said he stressed.
The second wave of the pandemic had a significant impact on demand for domestic air transport, which was slowly on the road to recovery. With the drop in demand, mainly due to the implementation of travel restrictions by many states to combat COVID infections, airlines are flying at lower capacities and are also struggling financially.
The airline industry has also seen pay cuts, time off and layoffs as players seek to cut costs amid pandemic-induced disruption.
In an email interaction with PTI, the CEO of Vistara stressed that the airline is in the domestic market for the long term and is committed to contributing to its growth.
According to him, the airline has had to adjust the capacity deployed on its network, reducing it from almost 75% of the pre-COVID capacity in early March of this year to around 25-30% currently.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has authorized national carriers to operate flights at 50% of their capacity from June 1.
As a sign that the carrier, jointly owned by Tatas and Singapore Airlines, is on track with its expansion plans despite the pandemic, it will launch flight services from Delhi to Tokyo this month. Recently, the carrier has also received funds from its owners.
“Vaccines will play an important role in fully restoring demand for air transport across the world. We hope the government will do everything possible to expand and accelerate immunization coverage across the country,” Thng said.
The vaccination campaign has started around the world and the government plans to vaccinate the entire adult population by the end of this year.
So far, the central government has provided more than 23 crore doses of vaccine to states and union territories. Among them, the total consumption, including wastage, is 21 51 48 659 doses, according to the latest data from the Union Health Ministry.
Thng noted that the second wave of Covid pulled demand back just as the market entered a recovery phase after an unusually difficult year.
The average daily volume of domestic passengers contracted 56% between May 1 and May 16 from the April average, credit rating agency Icra said in a recent report.
The rating agency had also downgraded its traffic growth forecast to 80-85% for the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2022 from its previous projection of 130-135%.
The rapid spread of the virus, the introduction of stricter travel restrictions, difficulties in passing COVID tests for travel, state blocks, among others, have hampered demand, according to the Vistara chief, among others. also resulted in increased apprehension towards air travel. , Thng noted.
“We are obviously going through one of the most difficult times in the history of the aviation industry,” he said, adding that given the constantly changing situation, it is very difficult to estimate the timing. of a full recovery for now.
The authorities focusing on vaccination campaigns in the country, said Thng, “we hope that the situation will stabilize and that the demand for air travel will gradually return.”
While acknowledging that the pandemic has led to some temporary adjustments and modifications to Vistara’s short-term plans, he said the airline remains focused on its long-term vision to expand its wings further into the domestic market and d ” expand its global footprint.
The airline has taken several steps to reduce operating expenses for non-customers while working to conserve as much cash as possible since the virus outbreak, he said.
“Despite the current situation, we remain focused on protecting all jobs at Vistara,” Thng said, adding that the situation is very dynamic and that she will continue to monitor the market closely.
India’s domestic traffic fell to a 10-year low of around 53.4 million in 2020-2021, mostly affected by the first wave of COVID which also resulted in the suspension of scheduled flight services for two months on last year.
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