The COVID-19 crisis has put aviation in general, in shackles. In a latest report, India will cease all domestic flight operations from midnight of March 24, 2020. There is no clarity about how long this ban will remain in place. In an attempt to contain the virus, controlling the limits of air travel shall play a substantial role, however, the damage done to the sector is also irreparable, according to experts. To limit the loss to the aviation industry, the Indian Government has also provided for a tax holiday of $1.6b.
According to CAPA, an aviation advisory agency, the timing of the resumption of services is entirely in the control of the government, and looking at current situation, it will most likely be beyond March 31, 2020. Airlines have been given time till midnight on March 24, 2020, to plan operations to land their aircraft at their destinations before midnight of Tuesday. This means that at least 650 aircraft with Indian domestic airlines will be on the ground from midnight Tuesday. This ban however, does not extend to cargo operations. The decision to stop domestic airline operations came within less than 48 hours after India banned all foreign airlines to arrive in the country. The ban on international flights is till March 29, which shall most likely be extended as well.
The Government has also announced a slew of measures for airlines and airports on social distancing, which include ensuring adequate space between passengers and check-in counters and leaving one seat vacant between two passengers, among others, for the time being when airports and airlines shall be operational.
Indian domestic dominators, IndiGo Airlines and SpiceJet are among the worst-hit airlines as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the travel demand. This government-ordered suspension of all domestic flights will hurt business further for these two carriers. Collectively, these two airlines have lost more than a billion US dollars (~INR 7000cr) ever since the pandemic started affecting Asian aviation. IndiGo, and many other Indian airlines have issued a profit warning guiding their earnings for the ongoing quarter will be significantly impacted due to the ongoing disruption.
Airlines globally are struggling to survive in this difficult period. We are following the effect of this crisis closely. Stay tuned!