The covid-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the aviation industry. For no fault of the sector, a large section of flights remains grounded. Complex rules are in place for operating domestic flights, even as people, fearful of the risks to their health, continue to avoid air travel.
The severe travel restrictions, including covid testing and quarantine protocols in some states, deter many of those able and willing to fly. The now-discarded rule that barred the sale of middle seats in aircraft–to increase the distance between passengers in row–made many flights unviable. While many of these controls have helped reduce the spread of the virus and the severity of the pandemic, he aviation sector has had to bear the brunt of the costs arising as a consequence of the necessary curbs. Revenues have plunged, and it is bleeding financially.
It is understandably looking to the government for support, as soon as in the upcoming Union Budget scheduled to be presented on 1 February.
Even before the outbreak, rising air turbine fuel (ATF) costs and a not-so-favourable taxation structure were squeezing airlines’ finances. Icra Rating estimates that India’s airlines are hurtling towards their steepest-ever cumulative loss of more than ₹20,000 crore in FY22, about 44% more than the ₹13,853 crore loss a year ago.