Despite Covid-19 induced economic challenges, senior executive of airline major IndiGo estimates a rebound in domestic passenger traffic within the next 5 months.
Accordingly, the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, William Boulter is encouraged by the fact that demand has sustained since the restart of operations on May 25.
Passenger air services were suspended on March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19.
Presently, airlines are only allowed to deploy 45 per cent of their total capacity to service domestic routes.
Even with capped capacity, domestic airlines were able to ferry around two million passengers during the past one month.
“People travel for a number of different reasons, many of which can be seen as ‘essential’,” Boulter told IANS.
“The encouraging aspect right now is that demand is sustained over the past weeks since restart, it was not a case of a few days’ pent up demand. Passengers are moving over all the routes we are operating, there is no particular pattern between metros or non-metros.”
The airline offers close to 350 commercial flights daily, due to the capped capacity norms.
At present, the aviation sector suffers from the fallout of Covid-19 outbreak and the consequent national lockdown which was implemented to curb the pandemic.
Besides, the outbreak has induced economic contraction and heavily impacted the travel industry.
Lately, national and international monetary agencies have cited a range of negative 4.5 to 5 per cent contractions in India’s GDP growth rate.
The sector is a high frequency indicator of country’s economic growth.
A rebound in passenger traffic and aircraft movement will be taken as a sign of an eventual revival in the overall economy.
On international operations, Boulter said that restart is dependent on a number of factors but the airline is “ready and waiting”.
Last month, Directorate General of Civil Aviation had issued a circular extending the suspension on scheduled commercial international flight operations to and from India till July 15.
However, Centre in the past has hinted at the prospects of abilateral bubble arrangements’, which will allow some international operations between countries.
Apart from domestic services, the airline is operating several charter services each day, either as part of the Vande Bharat mission, or for individual entities and corporations.
The airline has also expanded its international and domestic cargo operations.
It has launched cargo operations to China, Singapore and Malaysia.
The move to haul cargo assumes significance as the airline has a massive domestic network and the largest aircraft fleet in India.
“Cargo demand has been buoyant on many routes, owing to the lack of the normal passenger aircraft belly space, and has supported our ‘cargo-in-cabin’ charters, where with some minor equipment and procedural changes we have been able to carry significant payloads on our A320 and A321 passenger aircraft,” he said.
“Since the end of March, we have operated well over a hundred cargo charters.”
IndiGo has deployed 10 aircraft for cargo operations.
In addition, the airline has come out with an installment based ‘Flex’ ticket payment option.
Under the scheme, passengers can secure their bookings by paying only 10 per cent of the total fare amount and defer their payment on domestic flight for a period of up to 15 days either from the date of bookings or before the date of departure.
SpiceJet operates first long-haul wide-body charter flight to Canada
Airline major SpiceJet on Saturday became the first Indian budget carrier to operate a long-haul wide-body charter flight to North America.
The airline repatriated 352 Canadian nationals and permanent residency holders from New Delhi to Toronto on Saturday. The airline chartered a wide-body Airbus A330-900 Neo aircraft for the purpose.
The twin-aisle A330 Neo aircraft has a configuration of 353 economy and 18 business class seats.
“Our first-ever long-haul charter flight to Canada is yet another example of our commitment to helping as many people as we can to get back home to their families in these troubled times. Being the first Indian budget airline to operate a non-stop long-haul flight to North America is a proud moment for the SpiceJet family,” Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet, said in a statement.
“We have operated flights across the globe repatriating close to 85,000 people and transporting over 28,000 tonnes of medical and essential supplies, and we intend to keep on with our efforts,” the statement said.
On August 1, SpiceJet had repatriated 269 Indians from Amsterdam to Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
The airline has operated over 515 charter and Vande Bharat flights to help repatriate close to 85,000 stranded Indian citizens from countries such as the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, the Netherlands, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
PM Narendra Modi to launch Rs 1 lakh crore financing facility on Sunday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the financing facility of Rs 1 lakh crore under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund on Sunday and also release the sixth instalment of funds of Rs 17,000 crore to 8.5 crore farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme.
Modi will take part in the event around 11 a.m. via video conferencing and the occasion will be witnessed by lakhs of farmers, cooperatives, and citizens across the country. Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, will also be present on the occasion.
The Union Cabinet has approved the Central Sector Scheme of financing facility under “Agriculture Infrastructure Fund” of Rs 1 lakh crore. The fund will catalyse the creation of post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets such as cold storage, collection centres, processing units.
These assets will enable farmers to get greater value for their produce, as they will be able to store and sell at higher prices, reduce wastage, and increase processing and value addition.
Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a statement said Rs 1 lakh crore will be sanctioned under the financing facility in partnership with multiple lending institutions.
Eleven of the 12 Public Sector Banks have already signed MOUs with the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW). A three per cent interest subvention and credit guarantee of up to Rs 2 crore will be provided to the beneficiaries to increase the viability of these projects.
The beneficiaries of the scheme will include farmers, Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS), Marketing Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producer Organization Scheme (FPOs), Self Help Groups (SHGs), Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, startups, and Central or state agency or local body sponsored Public-Private Partnership Projects.
The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna (PM-KISAN) scheme, launched on December 1, 2018 has provided a direct cash benefit of over Rs 75,000 crore to more than 9.9 crore farmers. This has enabled them to fulfil their agricultural requirements and support their families.
The rollout and implementation of the PM-KISAN scheme has happened at an unparalleled pace, with funds being directly transferred into the Aadhaar authenticated beneficiaries’ bank account to prevent leakage and increase convenience for farmers.
The scheme has also been instrumental in supporting farmers during the Covid-19 pandemic, through the release of nearly Rs 22,000 crore to aid the farmers during the lockdown period.
Petrol and diesel prices may rise again from next week
Consumers might see fuel prices going up again as oil companies are bracing up to pass the rise in global crude and product prices on retail sales.
Accordingly, petrol and diesel prices may begin their rising trend all over again much to the discomfort of fuel consumers that have faced constant increasing prices since June 7.
The pump price of petrol and diesel had remained unchanged for last one week as oil prices were steady and crude was hovering around $42 per barrel mark for past several days. But with crude price now rising and inching towards $45 per barrel mark, oil companies said that they will be left with no option but to raise retail prices of petrol and diesel.
“We will observe the price movement for next couple of days and if oil prices remains firm, a decision may be taken to revise retail product prices again under the daily price revision mechanism,” said an executive of a public sector oil company on condition of anonymity.
Diesel continues to be priced at Rs 73.56 per litre in Delhi while petrol price remains static at Rs 80.43 per litre. This price level has been maintained since last Friday when diesel were cut by a sharp Rs 8.38 per litre following Delhi government’s decision to reduce VAT on the product from 30 per cent to 16.75 per cent.
This price cut has again made diesel cheaper than petrol in the city after more than month. In fact, diesel is cheaper than petrol in Delhi by the widest margin among all metros now.
Delhi was the only major city in the country where diesel prices were higher than petrol. Diesel prices first rose above petrol in Delhi last month, much to the discomfort of the transport sector and the fuel dealers.
The Rs 1.5 per litre differential had led substantial loss of business to pump operators in Delhi as vehicles were getting diesel filled in neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
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