The impact of Coronavirus on airlines may stay till 3rd quarter of 2021: Urbane Jets' Abhishek Kulkarni
How badly Coronavirus is impacting Indian airlines? Mr. Abhishek Kulkarni, Chairman & Managing Director, Urbane Jets has given in-depth information on the same.
Many nations including India has been fighting with the deadly Coronavirus. Lockdown has been imposed in India to curb its further spread. The pandemic and subsequent nation-wide shutdown have impacted many sectors and overall economy at national and international levels. The aviation and tourism sector is among the worst-affected. As per the latest reports, around 29 lakh jobs in the Indian aviation and dependent industries will be impacted. According to reports, the cash reserves of several airline companies are now low and they are almost at the brink of bankruptcy.
Currently, the flight services in the country are suspended till May 3; however, the suspension may extend further. To know more in detail about the current status of the Indian aviation sector, we asked Mr. Abhishek Kulkarni, Chairman & Managing Director, Urbane Jets some questions and he helped us with information on flight bookings, the losses that are being incurred and how the sector can bounce back. Read on to know more.
What is the status of flight bookings?
As per DGCA Circular no 4/1/2020-IR Dt. 19th April 2020, no bookings are permitted. In the Interim, a few airlines including Air India had started bookings. However, they have been stopped until further instructions and orders are passed. SpiceJet has announced that they will be open for booking w.e.f. 16th May 2020. The airlines have asked for a 15-day advance booking to enable them to sell their inventory and also have long-stranded planes serviced.
How has the aviation sector got affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown?
The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown is clearly visible in markets. Globally, airlines are estimating losses of up to USD 113 billion in passenger revenue. The aviation sector that connects nations is witnessing major layoffs and pay cuts. Some companies have also asked their employees to go on unpaid leaves. In India, the decline in airplane movement is even more dramatic. Except for a handful of cargo and repatriation charter flights, India’s skies are empty. We consider the pandemic to be a body blow for an already ailing sector.
How much time will it take to cover the losses and stabilise the business?
The working norms post the virus will undergo a major change. This will involve all industries linked to aviation, i.e. hospitality and tourism. Experts predict that this impact is estimated to stay until the third quarter of 2021. However, early discovery and availability of a vaccine may fasten the recovery of the sector.
What measures the government should take to improve the business?
The government should take the following measures to revive the aviation Industry.
a. A constructive bailout plan by the government.
b. The plan should involve short, medium- and long-term measures.
c. Tax holiday for at least a year, starting from the time flying resumes.
d. Getting the ATF ( Aviation Turbine Fuel) under the gambit of GST.
e. Reduction in airport charges.
f. Reduction in overflight fees.
g. Incase ATF is not brought under GST, the government should reduce excise duty on jet fuel.
h. SOPs for the tourism and hotel industry to increase footfall, thus indirectly benefiting the aviation sector.
Precautions your company is taking now and will take in the post-pandemic phase?
Urbane Jets is taking all due precautions during the pandemic, starting from employees working from home to making sure our clients have hassle-free travel during this period. We ensure that the aircraft is thoroughly disinfected by implementing proper sanitation procedures right from the time of its arrival. Our vendors follow protocols as published by the WHO in disinfecting and sanitizing the aircraft before a flight and follow the norms for social distancing. We have been following precautionary measures even before the lockdown was announced. Work from home was advised and effective reporting systems were established through video conferencing apps. Work from home is the new way of doing business; we are constantly evolving with new ideas to provide uninterrupted services to our clients.