As IndiGo slowly begins recovering from India’s crippling second wave, it is setting its sights on the future. CEO Ronojoy Dutta recently said that he expects to see traffic reach pre-pandemic levels by the second quarter of 2022. Let’s find out more about this outlook and IndiGo’s ongoing recovery.
In an interview this week, seen in Business Standard, IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta shed some light on his expectations for future recovery. As the second wave crushed passenger numbers, IndiGo is currently only operating 40% of its domestic capacity and 30% of its international capacity.
However, the worst of the COVID-19 impact seems to be finally over, according to Dutta. He added that passenger traffic has been ticking up in recent weeks, saying,
“It bottomed out on May 18 and at that point we had gone down from 1,200 departures to about 400 departures. That is how bad it was. Since then, we have started recovering. From May 18 to June 6, the numbers (of passengers) are picking up nicely.”
As passenger numbers recover, Dutta added his expectations for the market recovery. IndiGo expects to reach 80 to 85% of pre-pandemic domestic capacity by the end of 2021, bringing it just over levels seen this February. Notably, he expects that the airline will achieve a full recovery of both international and domestic traffic by the second calendar quarter of 2022.
This would mean IndiGo bouncing back by the summer of next year, an optimistic outlook given the current situation. However, all of these projections are subject to change depending on government capacity limits and a rise in COVID-19 cases.
One important step towards boosting domestic travel in India will be the removal of state quarantine and testing. Currently, nearly every Indian state requires travelers to bring proof of a negative test to enter and possibly even quarantine. This has complicated efforts to boost domestic travel in the short term.
The IndiGo CEO hopes to see these testing and quarantine limits removed by the end of June, saying,
“Now, we are 1 lakh [100,000] (daily) Covid cases and below, and the numbers are dropping rapidly. Most of these lockdowns are being removed by different states by June 14, June 18, etc. In any case, by the end of June, I hope all these restrictions are gone and we are just flying again as is the case in the US and Europe, where all these state-wise restrictions have been lifted.”
The government is currently reviewing a proposal that would allow fully vaccinated individuals to skip these requirements. However, with under 4% of Indians having received both shots, this would benefit few. For a substantial recovery, this would have to at least be extended to those who have received one dose as well.
For now, India’s aviation industry is once again trying to find its legs. If trends hold and passengers return to the skies soon, airlines could avoid a doomsday scenario predicted by many. However, nothing is certain yet.