India’s aviation sector on the verge of a turnaround?

By Business standard

If the recent indicators are anything to go by, India’s aviation sector is seeing a solid revival after pandemic-related turbulence. On October 9, domestic airlines flew more than 300,000 passengers for the first time since February. While this is still a shade shy of the pre-covid level of 350,000 daily fliers, things are certainly looking up for the sector.

Major airports saw heavy crowds and long queues last weekend, indicating the comeback of air travel.
The country’s two biggest airports, Delhi and Mumbai, are reopening terminals that had been closed earlier due to low footfalls.

In what comes as a shot in the arm ahead of the peak holiday season, the government has allowed airlines to operate at 100% capacity from October 18. At present, this limit is 85%.

Data from aviation regulator DGCA show that the average load factor of major airlines was 70% in August. The country’s biggest airline, IndiGo, said its current load factor was at 75-80%. It is operating 1,200 flights daily, which is around 80% of its pre-Covid-19 capacity.

India is also re-opening its borders for tourists after 18 months. The government will start issuing fresh tourist visas from October 15 to foreigners who are coming in through chartered flights. Those who want to visit India on regular commercial flights will be able to do so from November 15. Rules pertaining to their testing, quarantine and vaccination are yet to be laid out.

To help the tourism industry, the government is giving out visas to the first 500,000 tourists free of cost. The scheme will be applicable till March next year.

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