As the worst of the second wave passes through India, airlines have slowly started to increase their schedules. This week, daily domestic flights increased to more than 1,000 for the first time since May. Airlines have also seen ticket bookings increase, hopefully igniting another recovery for the beleaguered industry.
According to data from RadarBox.com, Indian airlines have been increasing their flights since early June. Traffic reached its lowest point in mid-May, with all airlines operating only 777 daily domestic flights during this period. This was a 64% drop from February 2021 traffic and 70% from pre-pandemic levels.
However, the worst seems to be over for Indian aviation. Since May 28, daily flights have been increasing slowly. Today, airlines operate 1,060 flights a day, a 36% increase from second-wave lows. If all goes well, airlines can reach the 50% capacity limit imposed by the government in late summer.
India’s largest airline, IndiGo, confirmed the recovery in passenger traffic. In an interview, CEO Ronojoy Dutta said about the number of passengers,
“This [traffic] hit rock bottom on May 18th and by that point we had dropped from 1,200 to about 400 matches. That’s how bad it was. Since then, we started to recover. From May 18th to June 6th, the number (of passengers) is increasing a lot. ”
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International remains weak
While domestic traffic continues its rise, international traffic continues its downward spiral. Almost all major markets banned or restricted travel from India, resulting in airlines drastically reducing their schedules. From a peak of 600 daily international flights in late March, airlines operate just 294 daily flights today.
Worryingly, traffic continues to drop every week as travel restrictions continue to drag. As cases in India fall to their lowest point in months, airlines hope to see border controls are slowly eased to allow the entry of Indians. However, the threat of new strains means it could still be weeks or months before this recovery begins.
As airlines continue to struggle with a fraction of passenger traffic, losses continue to increase. Low Cost Carrier SpiceJet did not pay employees their full wages to May, “postponing” due to a major cash crisis. Likewise, GoAir and SpiceJet have entered into a informal agreement to combine flights in the case of low loads, an unprecedented movement.
As cases dwindle, airlines desperately hope for some degree of “revenge trip” as people leave for the first time in months. However, such travel will depend on local restrictions and the lifting of onerous testing requirements by states. For now, airlines are gearing up for another tough year as COVID-19 pummels the industry again.
What do you think about the future of India’s aviation recovery? Let us know in the comments.