Cargo holds ground amidst trying times
Cruising Heights|June - July 2021
The financial crunch could see lessors taking over planes for non-payment and if that happens, air cargo will feel the effect. Amidst all this, however, cargo reigns supreme and carriers like IndiGo have plans for freighters.
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INDIGO IS KEEN TO RAMP UP ITS CARGO OPERATIONS. THE CARRIER SIGNED A LETTER OF INTENT FOR TWO A321 PASSENGER-TO-FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS AND IS LOOKING OUT FOR TWO MORE PLANES.

Indian aviation is passing through its most difficult phase. In a financial crunch even before the pandemic started, this time around with the second run of Covid, the aviation sector is predicted to see possible downsizing or as Reuters put it “have their planes repossessed by lessors as a surge of COVID-19 infections roils travel”.

As metro cities — Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru — went for stringent lockdowns, forwarders were apprehensive. The lockdowns have impacted manufacturing and pushed air freight down. To top it all, fewer flights have led to space constraints and higher rates.

Passenger numbers have been going down steadily. Ratings agency ICRA pointed out that for April 2021, domestic passenger traffic has been estimated at around 5.5-5.6 million. That will be a decline of around 29 per cent compared to 7.82 million in March 2021. Simply put, the domestic passenger traffic will be lower than the October 2020 levels.

On the part of the airlines, capacity for April 2021 was lower by around 15 per cent compared to March 2021 (around 60,300 departures, against 71,300 departures in March 2021). That shows the declining demand scenario arising basically from fliers unwilling to risk travel by air due to the rise in Covid-19 infections. Incidentally, domestic airline operations were shut down completely during April 2020.

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