The pandemic saw 6.3 crore domestic air passengers, 56.3% lower than 14.4 crore in 2019, according to DGCA data.
The travel sector, including aviation and hospitality, are among the worst hit during the pandemic.
In response to a question in Parliament, aviation minister H S Puri on Wednesday said that since the outbreak of the Covid-19 “airline carriers have been severely affected due to restrictions on domestic and international passenger movements… Revenues of major Indian scheduled carriers fell from Rs 46,711 crore during April-September, 2019, to about Rs 11,810 crore during April-September 2020. Their full time and contractual employment which was 74,887 as on March 31, 2020, fell to 67,906 as on September 20, 2020.”
Scheduled international flights were suspended on March 23, due to the pandemic. Since then, India has been operating Vande Bharat Mission flights to many places and has formed air bubbles with over 20 countries on which allowed categories of travellers can fly.
Scheduled domestic flights were suspended for two months last year before being allowed to resume partially on May 25, 2020. Airlines are currently allowed to operate 80% of their pre-Covid domestic capacity.
Minister Puri added that two airlines — Deccan Charters and Air Odisha — ceased operations last July.
“Domestic air cargo handled fell from 1.15 million metric tonnes (MMT) during March-December 2019 to 0.72 MMT during March-December 2020, while international air cargo handled fell from 1.74 MMT to 1.19 MMT,” he said, while listing some steps to revive the sector.
These include reduction of central excise duty applicable on jet fuel; liberalised domestic code share points in India within the framework of air service agreements; route rationalisation in Indian airspace in coordination with Indian Air Force for efficient airspace management, shorter routes and lower fuel consumption and GST rate reduction% for domestic maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services.