Domestic air traffic has seen slow growth since its resumption on May 25 due to inconsistency among the state governments regarding quarantine rules for passengers, said IndiGo's Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer Sanjay Kumar on Wednesday. For example, while Assam has made it mandatory for flyers to undergo a seven-day institutional quarantine and then seven-day home quarantine, Delhi asks domestic passengers to be in 14-day home quarantine after landing.
"As we have seen more and more (flight) operations happening and more and more customers flying, I think there is a level of confidence that is coming back to the travelling public," Kumar said while addressing a webinar titled "Aviation Industry's Route to Recovery" organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce. "The only reason why we are still seeing a much slower growth is due to the inconsistency of the state governments at various levels - inconsistency about various rules and regulations in different markets. That is what is keeping the customers away," he added.
India resumed domestic passenger flights on May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, only 33 per cent of the pre-COVID flights were permitted to fly initially. On June 26, it was increased to 45 per cent. While on an average, around 700 domestic passenger flights are flying each day in India now, the average seat occupancy rate continues to remain low at 50-60 per cent.
For example, according to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, a total of 715 domestic flights with 61,512 passengers operated on Tuesday. It means there were 86 passengers on each flight. As 180-seater A320 plane is the most common one flying in India, Tuesday's figures indicate an occupancy rate of 47.77 per cent. Kumar said at the webinar, "If you had a situation where everybody was behaving the same way, like in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, all the state governments were offering similar kinds of rules and regulations for the travellers coming in or going out, I think you will see a much-improved situation going forward."
"I think this is not going to be far off. It may take another 3-4 weeks time before we start to see all the state governments getting aligned to a common working protocol. That will push the demand," Kumar noted.