Speaking to India Today in an exclusive interview, Conrad Clifford, Regional Vice-President, Asia Pacific at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said, “The situation for India is very severe indeed”.
In a revised forecast issued a week ago by IATA, the trade association that represents 82 per cent of the world’s airlines including Indian carriers like Air India, SpiceJet, Vistara and IndiGo, said Indian aviation will see 47 per cent fall in passenger demand, which translates into a loss of 11 billion dollars in passenger revenue for airlines in India.
“This is absolutely unprecedented. It is particularly damaging when you think that pre-Covid India was the fastest growing market in the world and we celebrated 54 months of double digit passenger growth, which is unprecedented. India was swiftly moving towards number three spot in terms of local aviation markets,” Conrad Clifford said. “This (impact of Covid-19) has been a cataclysmic reverse,” he added.
India imposed a ban on international flights in the third week of March, which was subsequently followed by a similar ban on domestic operations after the announcement of the first phase of the nationwide lockdown, starting March 25.
IATA, in its forecast, has estimated that 3 million jobs in aviation and its dependent sectors could be at risk as a result of the aviation sector taking a hit. Employees within the sector have already taken pay cuts, not received their salaries at all, or been compelled to go away on leave without pay.
IATA said that governments need to treat this as an “emergency” and step in quickly to do something. Some of the measures that the airline body suggested include adopting include direct financial support by governments