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Domestic airlines industry pleasantly surprised as business bounces back earlier than anticipated

Indian businesses are bouncing back. The domestic airline industry, one of the worst impacted by the lockdown, has already got back to 80 to 85 per cent of the pre-Covid air traffic levels. Sources said that traffic has particularly picked up from last month November despite the absence of the corporate business traveller.

Sources said that most domestic flights have resumed for all sectors across the country, though international flights are still limited. “Flights are going full for most sectors, we are pleasantly surprised by the traffic level at present,” a senior executive at a private airline on condition of anonymity told IndiaNarrative.com.

Now as the country gears up to launch its Covid 19 vaccine, the airlines companies are hoping to resume normal services by March end.

The executive said that while domestic air travel is likely to normalise by March, uncertainty over international air routes remain. At present, flight to and fro from the UK and a few other European countries have been temporarily stopped due to the new Coronavirus strain. Besides, many countries, especially in the south east Asian region such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, which have remained hot tourist destinations are yet not opening up borders for international tourists.

Around June-July several airline companies including Indigo decided to cut down on its workforce as air travel was brought to a halt amid the stringent nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of the pandemic. IndiGo, for example, had announced that it would have to lay off 10 per cent of its workforce. The state owned Air India and SpiceJet too announced pay cuts for many of their staff members.

An industry insider said that as the seat utilisation on flights has now almost reached pre-Covid levels, many airline companies could start looking at fresh recruitment from March onward.

The Indian economy contracted a 7.5 per cent contraction for the second quarter of the current financial year. In the first quarter, the contraction was a sharp 23.9 per cent. With the Covid 19 vaccination drive expected to begin soon, business sentiments have started to improve. Analysts said that economic growth in 2021-22 is expected to be “far better than anticipated earlier.” The Centre is also likely to boost public spending to support economic growth.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, earlier said that the total stimulus package fleshed out by the government and the Reserve Bank of India stands at Rs 29.87 lakh crore, which is 15 per cent of the GDP.