Lockdown: Airlines seek short-term relief from Centre, says SpiceJet CMD

  • India's lockdown, aimed at containing the spread of covid-19, has been extended by another 19 days to 3 May
  • The aviation industry will likely incur losses worth $3 billion-$3.6 billion during April-June because of covid-19

Rhik Kundu
Updated14 Apr 2020
Domestic air passenger traffic is expected to decline to 80-90 million in FY21 from an estimated 140 million in FY20, while international traffic will likely halve to 35-40 million. (Photo: Hindustan Times)
Domestic air passenger traffic is expected to decline to 80-90 million in FY21 from an estimated 140 million in FY20, while international traffic will likely halve to 35-40 million. (Photo: Hindustan Times)

NEW DELHI: Indian airlines have sought short-term relief from the government, after the grounding of most of their fleet because of the covid-19 outbreak, SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Sigh said on Tuesday.

Speaking at an webinar on Tuesday, Singh said airlines have been engaging with the government daily seeking relief for the sector.

Singh's statement came soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of the lockdown by another 19 days to 3 May. The lockdown, effective 25 March, was scheduled to end today.

India’s aviation industry is expected to incur losses worth $3 billion-$3.6 billion in the June quarter because of covid-19, with airlines the worst hit, consultancy firm Capa India had said in a report last week.

The sector, battered by the pandemic, is also expected to see a sharp declines in domestic and international passenger traffic, Capa India had said.

Domestic air passenger traffic is expected to decline to 80-90 million in FY21 from an estimated 140 million in FY20, while international traffic will likely halve to 35-40 million.

As things stand, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has written to civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri, seeking an urgent financial rescue package and tax incentives for airlines in line with those offered by the US, China and Europe.

There has been no response from the government yet.

SpiceJet's Singh said the current crisis can be used as an opportunity to bring about structural reforms in India's aviation sector.

"People say that India only reforms in a crisis and if that is true, we should certainly use this crisis to bring about the reforms that we have sought for so long," he said.

Singh urged the government to bring jet fuel under the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime, which would help bring down costs for airlines. "Bringing aviation turbine fuel (ATF) is a long pending request."

"Second thing we need to look at this whole structure of airports and the way the airport concessions are given," he added.

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