SpiceJet Posts ₹ 593.4 Cr Loss in Q1; Cargo Revenue Up 144%

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File photo of SpiceJet Crew posing in front of an aircraft performing a Vande Bharat Flight. Source: Instagram

With flight operations remaining suspended for most part of the quarter following the nationwide lockdown, passenger and cargo airline SpiceJet, has reported a net loss of ₹ 593.4 crore in the first quarter of FY21 (April to June, 2020) against a profit of ₹ 261.7 crore in the same quarter last year.

The Gurugram-based airline reported an operating revenue of ₹ 514.7 crore for the reported quarter as against ₹ 3,002.1 crore in the same quarter last year. For the same comparative period, operating expenses were ₹ 1303.2 crore as against ₹ 2,887.2 crore.

On an EBITDA basis, a loss was ₹ 11 crore for the reported quarter as against profit of ₹ 747.5 crore for the corresponding quarter last year. On an EBITDAR basis, the profit was ₹ 13.5 crore for the reported quarter as against profit of ₹ 812.1 crore for the same quarter last year. The present operating environment on account of COVID-19 though does not reflect the true comparison of the current results with those of corresponding quarter last year.

Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet, said, “This is the worst-ever crisis to hit the aviation sector, but I am pleased that SpiceJet continues to innovate and outperform the industry. Flight operations were suspended for most part of the quarter and the partial resumption of flights initially and the weak demand thereafter was a reminder of the significant problems that this pandemic has resulted in.”

“As expected, Team SpiceJet showed remarkable resilience to deal with a crisis situation, once again. Our performance during the last six months clearly signifies our positive attitude and our ability to find opportunity in adversity. This has seen us quickly bounce back with industry best load factors and emerge as India’s number one cargo company. I am confident that as more and more States ease travel restrictions and business activity gets back to normal there will be a significant improvement in the operating environment for airlines and we are witnessing some early encouraging signs towards recovery. I expect our cargo business to continue to expand in the coming quarters. I am also encouraged by the progress made in the re-entry of Boeing’s Max aircraft into service.”

In terms of operational parameters, SpiceJet reported that it had the best passenger load factor among all airlines in the country during the quarter. The average domestic load factor for the quarter was 66.4% and the airline maintained its market share of above 16% despite the impact of COVID-19 thus demonstrating robust operating parameters.

Key business updates         

SpiceJet played a key role in keeping the country’s supply chain intact during the lockdown period besides playing a key in helping our fellow citizens in every possible manner.

Till date, SpiceJet has operated over 800 charter and Vande Bharat Mission flights to help repatriate more than 1,20,000 stranded Indian citizens from countries such as Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Netherlands, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka. SpiceJet also wet-leased a long haul wide body A330/A340 aircraft.

SpiceJet has established itself as country’s largest cargo operator and operated more than 7000 flights and transported around 50,000 tonnes of cargo since March 25, 2020. Out of these 7000 flights, 40% were to international destinations.

In addition to handling its regular cargo business, it also transported surgical supplies, sanitizers, face masks, coronavirus rapid test kits, IR thermometers etc. and providing doorstep deliveries of essential supplies, medicines and medical equipment to various cities in India at a time when most people wouldn’t venture out of their homes.

The airline has also supported the government’s ‘Krishi Udan’ and ‘Marine Krishi Udaan’ initiatives, by carrying a record 9662 MTs of shrimp and farm produce during the lockdown period.

On April 7, 2020, SpiceJet operated the India’s first cargo-on-seat flight carrying vital supplies in passenger cabin and belly space. Since then, the airline has been regularly deploying its B737 and Q400 passenger aircraft to carry cargo in the passenger cabin.

SpiceJet’s international cargo network now spans over 44 international destinations that include Almaty, Abu Dhabi, Baghdad, Bahrain, Bangkok, Bishkek, Cambodia, Cairo, Cebu, Chad, Colombo, Dhaka, Doha, Dubai, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Huangzhou, Incheon, Jakarta, Kabul, Kathmandu, Khartoum, Kyrgyzstan, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Male, Myanmar, Shanghai, Singapore, Sharjah, Sulaymaniyah, Tashkent, Ukraine, among others. The airline has been actively using Ras Al-Khaimah airport as a hub for its cargo operations.

With an aim to address the increased demand, SpiceJet converted 6 of its Q400 passenger aircraft into freighters, perfectly suited for operations to Tier II & III cities and to remote and hilly areas in the North East, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh.

Another major milestone for SpiceXpress, the airline’s dedicated cargo arm, was to receive the permission from aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to conduct drone trials. With this, the airline aims to provide quicker, faster and cost-effective delivery of medical, pharma and essential supplies and e-commerce products, especially to remote areas.  

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Deputy Editor, AviatorsBuzz Aditya Anand in his nearly two decades of Journalism experience has tracked Aviation, Travel, and Hospitality closely and reported on it for major publications like The Hindu, Mumbai Mirror, and MIDDAY.