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Why in news?

The aviation industry, like several other sectors, is facing a crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With travel restrictions, grounded fleets, benched staff, schedule uncertainties, ticket liabilities and cash burn, questions are being raised on whether the civil aviation sector can survive the epidemic.

Crisis in the Indian Aviation Industry

  • In India it is going to definitely take more than a month even to start services and then it is going to take at least a couple of years to come back to at least 50% of what we were. And that depends on how many airlines survive.
  • The crisis confronting the aviation industry is not only unprecedented but also that no one who is working in the industry has any clue on how to put the industry back on track.
  • It’s not a question of only restrictions, visas not being allowed, travel not being allowed, airlines not being allowed. Even after all these are allowed, there will be apprehension.
  • The fact is that a plane on the ground costs the airline enormously. In India, for example, out of the 650 planes you have with all the airlines, 50% of them have been taken on lease. So even while they’re on the ground the lease rentals are being paid.
  • It is not only employees who are being unproductive but also the machines. So, both men and machines are taking a heavy toll on the aviation industry.

How can governments and airlines facilitate recovery to be smooth?

  • The recent statements of the DGCA [Directorate General of Civil Aviation] say: even when the flights are put back into operation, the concept of social distancing will be imposed on the airlines.
  • If you are only going to be flying one-third of your capacity, look at the kind of fares that an airline will have to charge to sustain its operations.
  • We are perhaps getting back to the era of the 1940s and the 1950s where only the elite could afford to travel.
December 2023