India’s second wave has hit millions of vulnerable citizens, both medically and financially. During this crisis, Vistara has stepped up to distribute essential aid to families across the country. Let’s find out more about this initiative.
As India’s second wave hit, Vistara opted to go beyond flying medical personnel and cargo and engage in direct aid to the community. This came in the form of the ‘Vistara Wellness Initiative,’ where the airline distributed kits filled with essential supplies like dry rations of food and sanitization essentials.
The airline disturbed over 1,000 of these kits during the second wave alone to vulnerable families across the country. The initiative went beyond the traditional hubs of New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahemdabad to smaller cities like Dibrugarh, Leh, Port Blair (Andaman Islands), and many more.
This was the second phase of the wellness initiative. The first phase lasted from April to September 2020, during India’s national lockdown and subsequent months. With the second phase finishing this week, Vistara has distributed almost 150,000 wellness essentials to over 18,000 people since last year.
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In addition to its direct aid, Vistara was one of the first airlines to begin offering free tickets to medical personnel flying during the second wave. This extended to all doctors and nurses and included a return flight once their work was over.
Moreover, as the second wave resulted in shortages of critical goods like oxygen and medicines, the airline also began transporting these goods for free, wherever possible. Both of these initiatives have drawn praise from the community and government alike. It also highlights the important role civilian aviation plays in the supply chain.
Indian aviation is currently still struggling with the effect of the latest COVID-19 wave. Passenger numbers remain significantly lower than February 2021 levels, which was only 80% of the pre-pandemic level to begin with.
However, there is some good news on the horizon. The end of May saw passenger numbers rise for the first time in weeks, reaching almost 71,000 daily travelers. While this is far away from 311,000 at the start of March, it is finally a step in the right direction. As cases dip below 100,000 for the first time in months, passenger traffic could begin recovering again.
For Vistara, the easing of cases will be good news. The airline does not have a major domestic presence currently, with the current share at roughly 5-6%. Instead, the airline has been focusing its efforts on international operations instead. Using its fleet of 787-9s, the carrier has been flying to London, Frankfurt and will begin flights to Tokyo next week.
As cases decrease, countries could slowly begin reopening their borders to India, boosting traffic once again. For now, the airline is waiting and watching for a future recovery.