The civil aviation sector is one of the worst affected industries in the world, but its slowly and steadily headed for recovery as domestic air flights and cargo carriers are opening up. Airbus India President Remi Maillard believes that recovery in India would be much faster due to the size of the market.
Maillard, at the webinar COVID-19 Impact and Opportunities for the Civil Aviation Sector which was organized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), explained that opening up the domestic sector in a phased manner would help in reviving the sector. “While the Indian airline companies are suffering losses, the situation is not different in other countries,” he said. “Passengers have to be told that travel by airlines is the safest form of travel today. Once they get in the confidence, then recovery is possible.” The Airbus India President pointed out that revival will at least take a year and the domestic market should be the focus. Regional connectivity is of utmost importance right now, he said.
Indigo Airlines chief strategy and revenue officier, Sanjay Kumar believes there is a silver lining in the cargo segment which is just a percentage lower than what it was in the pre-COVID times. “The revenue from cargo has not been much affected despite the lockdown. Domestic travel is allowed on a 60 per cent capacity,” he explained. Kumar added that the industry is defining new rules and bringing back the confidence among the travelers. “The airlines are doing their best and will have to take care of the health and safety hygiene of the passengers in their flight.” Bharat Malkani, chairman of Max Aerospace and president of MRO Association of India, agreed that the cargo will grow. “But what we need is an ecosystem at place. We don’t need the government funding or concessions but a working system in place to survive such pandemics,” he said.
Salil Gupte, Boeing India president, brought forth the need for a confident travel initiative that aims at three levels of horizons. He explained that leadership is the global effort to provide passengers and a crew a safe, healthy and efficient travel experience. Gupte said the three layers of protection are to prevent the virus from reaching the airplane, keep the airplane free of viruses and minimize transmission of viruses on the airplane. He added that a multi-layered approach is needed to be adopted by the airline companies to protect passengers and the crew.
From the Center’s perspective, Satyendra Kumar Mishra the joint secretary Ministry of Civil Aviation highlighted the government’s Lifeline Udan initiative, under which the movement of essential and medical supplies across the nation was carried out. Mishra said the Vande Bharate Mission was aimed at bringing back the citizens of India who were stuck in foreign land. “Air India went to stations that it must not have ever gone before and as the demand went up, we roped in the private players to help out in the mission,” he said. The joint secretary pointed out that the government opened up the aviation sector from 35 per cent to almost 60 per cent. Taking the safety precautions into consideration, we are hopeful that as the situation improves, the sector would be opened up even further, Mishra said.