The recovery of the domestic civil aviation sector travel in India, one of the worst hit by the pandemic is being threatened with derailment by a fresh spurt in coronavirus infections and travel restrictions by some states.
Adding to the woes of airlines is the rising prices of jet fuel, which makes up the bulk of the cost of running an airline in India, Mint reported on Monday. Several Indian states have made a negative COVID test report mandatory for those flying from regions facing a recurrence of coronavirus.
Air Travel Hit
Air travellers from Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have for instance required to submit negative RT-PCR test reports before entering Delhi. Karnataka, Uttarakhand, West Bengal too have taken almost similar steps.
The latest curbs have hit air travel demand. A total of 2,85,000 people chose to fly each day in the week ended February 27, falling from 3,00,000 per day in the week ended February 20, ICICI Securities said in a report on the civil aviation sector on Monday.
“With rising COVID cases in the last few weeks, the possibility of another lockdown has increased, which is a threat to air traffic,” Mint said quoting the report said.
Meanwhile, oil marketing companies (OMCs) on Monday hiked jet fuel prices by about 10% over last month amid a firming up of global crude oil prices. Jet fuel accounts for about a fourth of expenses for major domestic airlines. ATF prices stood at ₹59,400.91 per kilolitre (kl) in New Delhi on Monday, according to Indian Oil Corp. Ltd.
Industry analysts said COVID tests mandated by some states seemed to have had a negative impact on air ticket bookings.
“There has been about a 15% drop in bookings (during the second half of February) as compared to the first fortnight of the month. However, if the recent spike in the number of cases is arrested quickly, then the travel sentiment may improve, and recovery may come back on track,” said an airline official on condition of anonymity.