Aviation industry needs to be cautious of passenger surge, don’t treat it as a trend – Jitendra Bhargava, Executive Director (r.), Air India

Civil Aviation Ministry has been experiencing significant growth in the pre-COVID times, and the recent report issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is a substantial boost for the Indian Civil Aviation sector. According to DGCA, passengers carried by domestic airlines during January-August 2022 were 770.70 lakh as against 460.45 lakh during the corresponding period of the previous year, thereby registering an annual growth of 67.38% and monthly growth of 50.96%.

The body further informed that Indian civil aviation industry experienced a 4 per cent growth in the month of August after suffering pandemic-induced losses. It hit the one crore passengers mark in the same month compared with around 97 lakh commuters in July. While the report showed incredible improvement and indicated a massive surge in domestic travelling, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also noted it and lauded the civil aviation sector’s efforts to emphasise the government’s commitment towards pan-India connectivity and ‘ease of living.’

Meanwhile, Mr Jitendra Bhargava, former Executive Director of Air India, shared his valuable observation on the development, stating that Sunday’s domestic passenger count crossing 4 lakh passengers augers well for the Indian civil aviation industry.

“The global aviation sector was severely impacted due to the COVID -19 pandemic, as governments across the world had to pull the shutters on operations with air passengers turning out to be super-spreaders, carrying the virus from one place to another. A calibrated resumption of flights was allowed by governments world-over in 2021. Sunday’s domestic passenger count crossing 4 lakh passengers augers well for the Indian civil aviation industry. However, one should be cautious and not treat it as a trend because we are in a festive season, and more people fly during this time of the year.” Mr Bhargava told The Quotes.

Former Air India executive director further claimed that the government had expressed its commitment towards air connectivity by connecting new Tier II and Tier III cities via air routes. While addressing the 4th Heli-India Summit on Monday, Jyotiraditya Scindia said that the number of airports in India has increased from 74 to 141 since 1947, and the Center aims to increase that number to 200 in a couple of years. According to Civil Aviation Minister, 67 airports were added in the last seven years.

“Civil aviation has now become the need of the hour for India and humankind worldwide. It always brings with it two important multipliers, the economic multiplier and the employment multiplier. The sector has a huge impact with an economic multiplier of 3.1 and an employment multiplier of 6,” he said at the event,” Mr Scindia said.

While commenting on the same, Mr Bhargava informed us that all Indian carriers are hungry to consume each opportunity, with many having augmented their fleets. “The launch of Akasa and the re-launching of Jet Airways translates into more capacity, thereby increasing pressure on airlines to continue wooing passengers with attractive airfares. More often than not such fares do not help airlines recover their operational costs.”

“With rising ATF prices, what’s important is that airlines, whilst expanding their network, focussing on increasing their frequencies should avoid losing sight of the economic viability. For example, several airlines have had to close shop in the past as often airfares charged by them were not enough to meet operational costs. Increased passenger count on flights would prove to be a silver lining for the airlines when figures reflect sustainability and carriers record greater seat occupancies and load factor,” added Mr Bhargava.

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