Domestic Flights At 100% Capacity Due To Surge In Demand; Air India Starts International Flights
Air India will operate special flights to India from June 15 to 30 for the Indians stranded in Europe. The booking began today at 8 AM GMT (1.30 PM IST).
The Union civil aviation ministry under the third phase of Vande Bharat Mission has ramped up its operations due to high demand for tickets from the UK and USA by adding more daily Air India flights which started flying from June 10.
After more than two months of India restricting air travel, Airlines are flying at near capacity after India reopened its skies for local travel. The expectations that the fear of coronavirus infections will prompt people to skip flights went for a toss.
Read to find out more…
Special Flights For People Stranded in Europe!
Under the Vande Bharat Mission, Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express started operating international flights from May 7 onwards to repatriate stranded Indians from abroad. The first phase was from May 7 to May 16, following which the second phase began.
The special flights for people stranded in Europe comes under the third phase of Vande Bharat Mission. Air India took to Twitter to announce, “Please note that the applicant should be registered with the local Indian Embassy/High Commission.”
However, it has been found out that many international passengers are not being able to book domestic tickets to their home states.
The High Commission of India, London has said all passengers who wish to travel to any destination in India may travel to Delhi. The passengers will have to undergo quarantine as per policy at Delhi before they are allowed to proceed to their home states. Under no circumstances, international passengers will be allowed to mix with domestic passengers before completing mandatory quarantine.
Boarding a connecting domestic flight from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru is not allowed for the international passengers as they will have to undergo the quarantine period.
Overseas Citizen Of India (OCI) cardholders, covered under the four permitted categories announced by the government of India, are eligible to travel. No COVID-19 test certificate is required to be produced for travelling to India.
80 Flights to Europe and 80 Flights to USA-Canada in the Third Phase of Vande Bharat Mission!
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted, “Until June 30, there will be two daily flights to London and 2 other European destinations.” 10 more flights have been added to US-Canada, in addition to 70 already announced, the tweet said.
This time, tickets were available in city booking offices and call centres as well.
While scheduled domestic passenger flights resumed on May 25 after a gap of 2 months, scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India.
Between May 7 and June 1, Air India group has operated a total of 423 inbound international flights under the mission, bringing 58,867 Indian citizens back to the country.
Flights Operating At Capacity As Bookings For Air Travel Increase!
India suspended all flights from 25 March when the government first imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain COVID-19.
According to the latest passenger load data from IndiGO, the country’s largest airline, flights of the airline, are operating at capacity with overbooking in many sectors. IndiGo has 262 aircraft in its fleet. This includes 123 Airbus A320neos, 100 A320neos, 14 A321neo and 25 ATRs.
GoAir, which resumed operation from 1 June, has reported 70-80% average passenger load factor across sectors and nearly 100% to destinations such as Lucknow and Varanasi.
An aviation industry executive, maintaining anonymity said, “(IndiGo) flights to and from most metros had near full bookings. Patna, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi, Cochin appear to enjoy a steady flow of passengers. Some sectors even saw overbooking. The trends show that the fear and apprehension have slowly dissipated as travellers learn to live with the virus.”
He also said, “The flight loads a fortnight into the opening of domestic travel has been near robust. The Airbus A320 comprising the lion’s share of the IndiGo fleet has a max capacity of 180 or 186 depending on configuration. The average loads on this fleet were about 128.”
The demand for air travel comes as a relief for airlines that have suffered the most during the two-month lockdown. It will also provide some respite to banks that have offered loans to airlines.
Airlines are permitted to operate at up to 33% of the earlier approved summer flights schedule for 2020.
Aloke Bajpai, chief executive officer and co-founder of Ixigo said, “Our bookings data shows there is a rise in travel from non-metros to metros as offices resume operations. Bookings across key routes in June have increased by 45-50% as compared to May last week when domestic flights had just reopened. Airfares have also decreased 20-25% week-on-week, making flying an attractive option for all travellers planning their immediate trips.”
The data released by Ixigo showed bookings in the Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Bengaluru, Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Mumbai-Kolkata routes have gone up 22-30% in the first week of June, compared with the last week of May. In certain sectors, the jump has been sharper, with Lucknow-Chennai witnessing a sixfold increase and Lucknow-Kolkata reporting a nearly fourfold rise during the period.
Last week, it was reported that the traffic congestion, power generation, port activity, vehicle registration and other high-frequency data point to the recovering economy perking up as India reopens.
Airlines had expressed apprehension about low passenger loads after an initial rush as India lifted the ban on air travel.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri said in a tweet on June 10 that operations of domestic airlines were ‘smooth and steady’.
A point to be noted is that the problems for Indian airlines are far from over as they are operating at a fraction of their fleet capacity. The Indian aviation industry may require funding of up to ?35,000 crore till 2022-23 as profitability will take a hit due to sharp drop in revenues and high fixed costs during the lockdown period, credit rating agency Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency of India Limited (ICRA) said recently.