A passenger planning to travel on a Vistara flight will soon be able to book the adjacent seat as well at a discounted rate so as to keep it vacant, said its Chief Commercial Officer Vinod Kannan on Monday. This statement came after Vistara released a survey on Monday that stated 24 per cent passengers were worried that fellow flyers would not adhere to coronavirus-related health protocols while flying.
Kannan told reporters the airline has sent out a note to travel agents informing that currently, passengers can book the adjacent seat, in order to keep it vacant, at the same price. However, he added, "We are looking to provide this on the online scenario and also provide some kind of incentive by discounts. That is something that is in the works."
Kannan said the occupancy rate in Vistara flights has been on an average between 50 to 60 per cent since the domestic passenger services resumed on May 25. Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India.
A total of 65 per cent of its customers are planning to take their next flight within the next six months, said the survey released by Vistara on Monday. According to the survey, business travel emerged to be the biggest reason for them to travel, with 35 per cent of the respondents indicating so, while 25 per cent of the respondents expected to travel to visit friends and relatives. The survey found Singapore, Dubai and the UK as the top three destinations for customers wanting to take their first international flight.
Around 6,000 Vistara customers participated in this survey. When it comes to concerns related to flying, 31 per cent of the customers expressed fear of exposure to coronavirus during the journey, 24 per cent were worried that fellow passengers would not adhere to health protocols and 15 per cent were concerned about high fares.
India resumed its domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. However, the Centre has permitted airlines to operate a maximum 45 per cent of their pre-COVID flights. Also, it has imposed upper and lower limits on airfares. When asked by when would Vistara be able to operate 45 per cent of its capacity, Kannan said, "It is a function of when we see cases tapering when we see different state governments relaxing some of their constraints...I think it will take some time to reach 45 per cent (mark)."
He was talking about the restrictions various state governments have put on their airports on the number of flights they can handle per day. For example, between May 25 and July 5, the Kolkata airport and the Bagdogra airport were permitted to operate 20 flights per day each.
However, with the West Bengal government seeing a steep rise in COVID-19 cases, the Kolkata airport announced last Saturday that no passenger flights will operate to Kolkata from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Nagpur and Ahmedabad between July 6 and July 19.