On Sunday, Air Deccan became the latest casualty of the crisis as it announced indefinite suspension of flight operations and asked all employees to go on sabbatical without pay.
It’s a blow to an industry that will burn through as much as $61 billion in the second quarter, according to the International Air Transport Association, with revenue set to plummet by 68%. To weather the downturn, U.S. airlines have lined up for $50 billion in loans and payroll assistance payments from the government.
Air Deccan has stopped its operations in view of the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown that has grounded all the airlines.The carrier said that it has asked all the employees to go an sabbatical without pay.
An estimated 35,000 British nationals are currently in India, out of whom over 20,000 have contacted the British High Commission to say they wish to return to the UK as soon as possible.
In an email to his employees, Air Deccan CEO Arun Kumar Singh said, "In view of the recent global and domestic issues and subsequent directive by the Indian regulator (to suspend all commercial passenger flights till April 14), Air Deccan has no choice but to cease its operations until further notice."
"It was a very proud moment for me as well as the entire Air India crew when we heard from Pakistan ATC praising our special flight operations to Europe," one of the senior captains of the special flights told. "As we entered in the Pakistan's Flight Information Region (FIR) and the Pakistan Air Traffic Controller (ATC) greeted us 'Assalaam Alaikum!' This is Karachi's control welcoming Air India for relief flights to Frankfurt."
Most of the airlines have commenced taking bookings for their flights from April 15 onwards. However, on Friday state-owned Air India said it has stopped bookings till April 30 and is awaiting a decision after April 14, when the nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end.
"The government must come with a overarching relief plan. Greater the severity of lock down bigger the package as percentage of GDP. US has allocated 12 per cent of its GDP, France close to 15 per cent. India is less than 1 per cent," he said.
India’s top six airports are now home to about 80% of grounded planes.
The fact that the government has allowed non-essential cargo for industry to be ferried for a fee has also opened up a potential business avenue for airlines, which are struggling with a loss of revenue due to the grounding of flights.
The embassy said it is planning to facilitate transportation to Delhi from some cities in northern India and will share the via STEP once the arrangements are finalised.
The airline has closed bookings for both domestic and international routes till the end of this month.
"The circular is a temporary measure and is valid till July 3, 2020, or till the normal functioning of the concerned RAO (Regional Airworthiness Office)/ Sub Regional Airworthiness Office (SRAO) is resumed, whichever is earlier," the DGCA noted.
In a joint letter to Air India chief Rajiv Bansal on Friday, the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) said the reduction in allowance was against the labour and employment ministry's advisory to all employers of public or private establishments not to terminate their employees or reduce their wages.
Allowing airlines to carry cargo would fetch some much-needed revenue for them, since they have been struggling since the government announced a lockdown, grounding all flights.
India is under a 21-day lockdown till April 14 to combat the coronavirus; all domestic and international commercial passenger flights stand suspended during the period.
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