Air passenger traffic in India is expected to grow at minus 30 per cent negative growth during this fiscal, with the government going for extended lockdown, this is down from earlier forecast of a 20-25 per cent negative growth, as per rating agency CARE Ratings. It expects the Air fare to increase as government will implement strict social distancing norms as and when passenger traffic is thrown open.
All domestic and international commercial passenger flights are suspended since March 25 for the lockdown till May 3, as of now.
The passenger volume growth in the fiscal ended March 31, 2019 was at 13.7 per cent, this was up by 3.7 per cent during the April-February period of the last fiscal, it said.
As the metros are the worst-affected in terms of the infection hotspots and they account for more than half of the passengers handled. Of the Airports nearly 63 percent of the passengers were handled by Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad as per the data for April-January for last fiscal. Airfares are also expected to increase as aircrafts may accommodate only one passenger per row in order to maintain social distancing, the note stated.
With the extension of the lockdown, the government has directed domestic airlines, most of whom had announced resumption of services in phased manner from May 4 and also started bookings, not to take any booking for domestic or international flights until further notice.
It is still not clear whether the air traffic will restart post May 3, as there is no vaccine in sight and with economy near standstill the fall in income will have its impact on the discretionary spending like travelling for tourism.
The government will also strict vigil in visa issuances with the fear of international passengers being carriers of coronavirus. The outlook for Aviation sector looks extremely uncertain at the moment and some relief will be seen in the third quarter of this fiscal, provided there is reasonable containment of the virus spread.