Roll-out of anti-Covid vaccine along with rise in new travel trends like ‘Workation’ and growth in regional routes are expected to accelerate existing passenger traffic to pre-pandemic levels within a few months, contended airline major IndiGo.
Accordingly, the airline is gearing-up for the expected demand and plans to repeal the ‘Leave Without Pay’ norm across all departments from January 1, 2021.
In a conversation with IANS, IndiGo’s Chief Commercial Officer William Boulter said the airline is optimistic about the arrival of a vaccine by early next year which will further propel the demand for air travel while opening avenues for international operations too.
“Additionally, we have witnessed travel demand for ‘Workations’, which have picked up as a promising domestic travel trend, with people moving out to newer cities and destinations to work remotely,” Boulter said.
“We are bullish about the overall growth and demand for domestic travel and we look forward to achieving pre-Covid levels of traffic within the next few months.”
According to Boulter, regional routes will take centre stage in aviation’s growth especially in the near future.
“We have witnessed moderate air travel demand and are optimistic that there will be more people travelling to meet their families after many months of being homebound,” he said.
“Being the safest mode of travel, flying has become the leading choice for people travelling across segments including migrant labour, especially with limited rail and bus operations. This trend is being further fuelled by affordable fares, ease in government restrictions and lesser travel time onboard our lean, clean flying machines.”
Currently, the airline is operating over 1,000 daily flights across 59 domestic and 6 international destinations, including scheduled commercial operations and air bubble flights.
Additionally, the airline is operating between 100 and 130 scheduled flights from three key metro cities of Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
“We saw a positive trend over the first few months of resumption of operations post the lockdown including the steadily rising PLF, unit revenue and future bookings on the back of increasing customer confidence in air travel,” he said.
“We are confident that our passenger loads will grow with the increase in capacity across our network. While the VFR segment will lead the demand resurgence, corporate travel demand will remain low owing to the technological advancements within organisations and while there is still some fear of virus and will pick up only once the situation normalises to a larger extent.”
At present, the airline is operating at around 70 per cent of its pre-Covid capacity and plans to quickly scale it up to 80 per cent.
In terms of cargo operations, Boulter pointed out the airline is able to satisfy the majority of India’s air freight needs, “even without freighter aircraft”.
“We will continue the deployment of aircraft for ‘CarGo-in-cabin’ operations even after resuming 100 per cent pre-Covid capacity levels,” he said.
During the lockdown, the airline utilised aircraft belly space and added some minor equipment and instituted procedural changes for the cabin to carry significant cargo payloads on its passenger aircraft.
“We are also uplifting more ‘Post Office’ mail, on behalf of the government, than ever before, thanks to our broad network and unmatched flight frequency.”
The airline has operated over 1,700 CarGo charters, transporting more than 14,300 MT of supplies between April 18 till September 7.
It has already operated ‘CarGo’ charter flights across 21 destinations within India and internationally, including new stations like Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, Cairo in Egypt, Almaty in Kazakhstan and Tashkent in Uzbekistan.