News ID: 266880
Published: 0607 GMT March 14, 2020

Indian carriers may ground 40-50 aircraft on weak demand

Indian carriers may ground 40-50 aircraft on weak demand
Mumbai airport has seen a drop of almost 30 percent, there has been a decline of 25 percent plus at Delhi airport. (NS)

Indian carriers could see between 40 and 50 of their aircraft being grounded due to weakening passenger demand and cancelation of visas by Indian authorities.

This is the consensus that seems to be developing at Wings India, the air show here which was inaugurated this morning. At the moment, no Indian carrier has given an official figure on the number of aircraft that have been grounded, reported.

With airlines canceling flights and passengers facing inconveniences, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued an advisory saying “it would be appropriate if airlines support their passengers in this tough time by waiving off cancelation/rescheduling charges or by providing any other incentives.”

In a presentation at the air show, Boeing said that flights in the Asia Pacific have been cut by half in the recent past. Boeing officials said that while it will be difficult to give the exact number of flight reductions, the daily number of flight departures in China had come down five times to 3,000 from around 15,000 earlier.

Arvind Singh, chairman of Airports Authority of India, said the country had seen a dip of about 20 percent in arrivals at airports. “Traffic has come down significantly. The impact on international tourist arrivals is more,” he said, adding that while Mumbai airport has seen a drop of almost 30 percent, there has been a decline of 25 percent plus at Delhi airport. Delhi and Mumbai are the busiest airports in the country.

Jagannarayan Padmanbhan, director, practice leader and transport infrastructure advisory of Crisil, feels there has been a 30-40 percent fall in footfalls not revenues at the major metro airports since the outbreak of the virus. Meanwhile, Vistara plans to reduce more flights as a result of the coronavirus and India withdrawing visas to various countries.

“There are likely to be more cut backs. A meeting is scheduled to take a view. It is an evolving situation,” an airline spokesperson said on the sidelines of Wings India 2020.

“There is temporary capacity rationalization in domestic as well as international network due to drop in demand. We have waived off cancelation charges for all domestic tickets booked on or before March 1 and for all international tickets booked on or before March 12,” said spokesperson.

Till date Vistara has withdrawn 27 round trips. A trip from Delhi to Chennai and then back to Delhi is counted as a round trip.

Meanwhile, Air India announced a further curtailment of its flights. It also extended the restoration of flights from India to Rome and Kuwait till April 30. Flights curtailed include one flight on the Delhi-Chennai-Delhi sector and its international flights linking Delhi to Tel Aviv, Delhi to Frankfurt and Mumbai to Frankfurt.

Kapil Kaul, chief executive officer of Center for Aviation (CAPA), said that he has not seen any Indian airline either canceling or deferring its aircraft orders due to decline in passenger traffic demand as on date. But this may happen depending on how long this situation continues.

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