The Indian aviation industry has hit an air pocket once again. Just as we saw a recovery in domestic traffic, the second wave of the COVID pandemic has severely hit the country. This unexpected turn of events has left the airlines and airports distressed. SpiceJet is severely affected.
Sudden Dip in Passenger Traffic
According to industry data, the passenger traffic dipped by thirteen percent in the last week of March 2021. The Director-General of Civil Aviation is yet to release March 2021 data; we expect negative growth in March over February.
In February, the number of passengers carried by domestic airlines was 15.56 million as against 25.15 million during the corresponding period of the previous year. The data shows a negative annual growth of -38.13% and monthly growth of -36.71%.
In April 2021, demand further fell by 5 percent from the last week’s average of March 2021. Once again, people are avoiding flying during the pandemic.
SpiceJet Dues Pile Up
The airline is going through a severe financial crunch. The Airports Authority of India had petitioned the airline in Delhi High Court for recovery of dues. In a hearing on April 15, 2021, the court expressed dismay over SpiceJet flouting the deadlines for payment of dues to the Airports Authority of India (AAI). AAI had questioned the intent of the airline to pay the dues at SpiceJet has recently announced a string of new routes. The total outstanding dues as of March 31, 2021, is INR 1340 Million.
In another development, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) has sent grounding notices for three aircraft leased to SpiceJet over dues pending over five months. SpiceJet owes INR 1600 Million to DAE.
Airlines Have to Clear Last Year’s Refunds
In its monthly meeting, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has rapped the airlines for defaulting on refund payments. These remarks pertain to tickets canceled by passengers during last year’s pandemic outbreak. The Supreme Court of India had ordered all airlines to fund all tickets by March 31, 2021.
IndiGo and GoAir have cleared all their dues to passengers, while Air India and SpiceJet are the major defaulters. Air Asia and Vistara have very few cases left and assured them that they would clear the dues within this month.
Difficult times have returned. All these new developments would further delay the recovery of the aviation industry. What is your opinion about this situation? Do write to us in the comments section below.