Indian air traffic down 33% in March, with zero passengers in last six days

The numbers confirm this as occupancy for low cost airlines like IndiGo, Go Air, SpiceJet dropped substantially as compared to the usual 90 percent load these airlines manage
Passenger numbers for Indian airlines fell 33 per cent in March, compared to the corresponding period last year. From March 24 midnight, India had announced a nationwide lockdown — one of the harshest measures declared by any government across the world — to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.

Airlines had zero passengers for the last six days in March. The data was released by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday evening.

In March, airlines flew 7.8 million passengers, against 11.5 million in the same month last year.

“Domestic operations were closed for about seven days. By the second half of March, we had also banned international flights. This had a cascading impact on connecting domestic flights as well,” said DGCA chief Arun Kumar.

Occupancy for low-cost carriers such as IndiGo, GoAir, and SpiceJet dropped substantially, compared to the usual 90 per cent load these airlines manage.

Airlines on average cancelled 7.48 per cent of their flights as they faced last-minute cancellations and often had to merge flights. Among the leading national carriers, GoAir cancelled 14 per cent of its flights for March.

Sources say airlines are likely to get some relief, such as deferred parking and landing charges, a longer credit window of jet fuel, holiday on all forms of taxes (except jet fuel). The Centre is also talking to banks if soft loans can be provided to airlines to improve liquidity.

According to the latest estimates by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airlines in India are likely to suffer a revenue loss of $11.2 billion, leading to 2.9 million jobs at risk as passenger demand will fall by 47 per cent. The latest estimates from IATA indicate a worsening of the impact from the pandemic and travel restrictions in the Asia Pacific region.

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