Airline companies in for a long, stressful winter

KATHMANDU: Even though aviation activities have resumed airline companies have said that business is significantly down.

The airline companies are still in a crisis due to lack of business even though travel restrictions have been lifted. As per the companies, there is hardly any passenger purchasing business class tickets at the moment.

As business has not been growing as expected and the pandemic has still not ebbed the airline companies are set for a long and stressful winter. The situation is the same on the domestic front too.

Even domestic airlines say that the number of passengers booking tickets have dwindled as compared to before the lockdown. Meanwhile, among the international companies serving Nepal, Etihad Airways has halted its flights to the country citing lack of passengers.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the turnover of airlines fell by 80 percent in the first six months of 2020. Even though airlines have not been able to operate at full capacity, they have to bear a lot of fixed expenses including staff salary, maintenance, fuel and airport levy.

Business had improved slightly after the restrictions were lifted but it again has started to decline. Bookings for the winter season are 78 percent lower than in the previous year, IATA reported.

The biggest problem is that bookings for business class seats, which are the most lucrative segment for airlines, have fallen sharply. Those who usually travel in such class are now meeting ‘virtually’.

Although many attempts have been made to explain that air travel is safe, it has not been effective. Different countries have made it mandatory for passengers to stay in quarantine. The chances of getting infected with coronavirus while traveling by air are very low, said David Powell, a medical consultant at IATA.

At present, the coronavirus testing system has been introduced in some major airports of the world. Recently, even France has adopted this measure. Although the airports have sort of applied some ointment to the very deep wounds, the problem cannot be solved, added IATA.

IATA has said that it will be very difficult for the airlines in this winter season. Earlier this month, United Airlines laid off 1,300 employees. The company is now waiting for help from the US government.

In order to support their business, some airlines in Asia have started operating ‘flights to nowhere’. Such flights do not fly to any destination but hover around in the sky for a specific amount of time. These flights have been a bit popular with those who miss the skies.

Similarly, Singapore Airlines has started operating a restaurant on its ‘grounded’ ship for people who ‘miss’ ship food. And, Singapore Airlines claims it has been very successful.

Fiscal Nepal |
Monday October 19, 2020, 04:52:51 PM |

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