Airlines in India brace for turbulent weather

Airlines in India are bracing for turbulent weather as a fast-spreading Covid-19 epidemic leads many to shun air travel.

Vistara, run by Tata SIA Airlines Ltd, has skipped Tokyo for its first long-haul international flight in the June quarter and will instead tap either London, Paris or Frankfurt because of a sharp slump in air travel demand in Asia, a person aware of the matter said. Vistara has already cancelled about 54 flights to Thailand and Singapore for March.

National carrier Air India Ltd and InterGlobe Aviation Ltd-operated IndiGo have suspended flights to China and Hong Kong while SpiceJet has suspended flights to Hong Kong. Over 3,100 people have died from Covid-19 infections that surfaced in China, while the number of those infected stands at over 91,000.

Air India, which has suspended flights to China and Hong Kong till 30 June, is bracing for loss on some of its international routes. “There will be some revenue loss definitely, but we are utilizing these aircraft in other routes,” said a senior Air India executive, who asked not to be named.

IndiGo too is bracing for a financial impact. “We will have to see how the outbreak of the coronavirus pans out. With summer approaching, we are hoping for this to be contained as stated by medical experts,” said an IndiGo official requesting anonymity.

“If the current epidemic continues and spreads further, the aviation sector could see weak demand. However, low oil prices are a positive. The recent cut of jet fuel by about 10% could bring our fuel costs down by about 4% during the quarter,” the official added.

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