Due to pent-up demand, India has a strong potential for further recovery in air traffic, contended airline major IndiGo.
Besides, the airline cited this trend as being supported by strong domestic travel consumption, which is further accentuated via the accelerating pace of the vaccination drive.
In a conversation with IANS, IndiGo’s Chief Commercial Officer William Boulter said: “We have witnessed increasing loads and demand for travel after mid-May and look forward to achieving 80 percent capacity utilization that we had in February by end of this year.”
At present, airlines’ permissible capacity deployment is at 65 percent of pre-Covid levels applicable up till July 31, 2021.
On the inoculation front, Boulter said the vaccination drive would definitely be a key factor for the recovery of the travel and aviation sectors.
“As per our understanding from doctors, if India is able to vaccinate 7 lakh people every day, the 3rd wave is expected to be flat. Currently, the travel demand is closely linked to the number of cases.”
“As the cases go up, travel demand falls and the reduction in covid cases pushes up travel bookings. In the current situation, we can see travel bookings bouncing back as the number of cases decreases.”
Furthermore, he talked about the ‘Lockdown Fatigue’ leading to higher pent-up demand this time around compared to last year.
“Last year, when we emerged out of the lockdown, there was pent-up demand because many citizens were stuck in other cities and wanted to return to their hometown which translated into a high demand for travel.”
“However, by now, a pandemic and lockdown fatigue has set in which spike travel bookings immediately as the lockdowns opened-up. According to industry sources, travel bookings have trebled in June itself and we hope that this will continue.”
In addition, he pointed out that the pandemic has given the airline an opportunity to look at “new ways of doing business”.
“We entered the crisis with no freighters but deployed around 10 A320 or 321 passenger aircraft for ‘CarGo’ operations as our ‘CarGo-in-cabin’ charters. We continued to study the market as it was important not to be too influenced by the unusual demand caused by the shortage of passenger belly capacity – that will inevitably return.”
“We have also initiated a freighter program and are in the process of sourcing 4 A321CEO (P2F) aircraft.”