Indian airlines risk consolidation, plane repossessions amid COVID-19 surge

By Reuters

India’s airlines are under renewed pressure to raise cash or face the risk of having to downsize, consolidate or have their planes repossessed by lessors as a surge of COVID-19 infections roils travel.

Passenger traffic fell by nearly 30% in April from a month before and has halved again so far in May, forcing even the country’s biggest and most cashed-up carrier, IndiGo, to act.

IndiGo’s parent, Interglobe Aviation (INGL.NS), met on Friday to consider an equity raising, just months after it abandoned plans to raise up to 40 billion rupees ($543 million) in January in response to a speedy recovery in travel.

InterGlobe’s board has decided to continue exploring all options to increase liquidity, including by way of a share sale to institutional investors, the company told the stock exchange.

With traffic plummeting, according to aviation ministry data, IndiGo’s cash burn is expected to rise to $3.4 million a day – a level last seen in September – from $2 million a day at the end of 2020, an analyst who tracks the company said.

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