Turbulence In The Sky - Eastern Mirror
Sunday, May 26, 2024

Turbulence in the Sky

By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 14, 2024 11:26 pm

Notwithstanding the spectacular rise of domestic air passenger traffic over the past two years, affordable air travel still remains a distant dream in India as most airlines are driven by profitability and do not take cost-sensitive consumers into consideration. To tackle the prevailing situation, the civil aviation ministry must intervene to ensure a traveler-centric policy as increase in passenger traffic can significantly reduce net loss. As per a report by credit rating agency Icra, with an annual growth of 13 per cent in the domestic passenger sector, the net loss in the Indian aviation industry will come down to 30 to 40 billion in 2024-25, from a high of 170-175 billion recorded in 2023-24 financial year. Thus, without paying much attention to profitability, airlines should take necessary steps to increase the volume of air travellers.

To achieve the goal, along with an adequate number of aircrafts, enough pilots should be hired to ensure that flights are not delayed or cancelled. The recent trouble in the aviation sector surfaced when the regulating authority Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a directive revising the maximum duty hours for pilots. Various airlines have opposed the said directive on the pretext that they would have to hire additional pilots to adhere to DGCA guidelines. Thus, to cope with the shortage of pilots, the airlines either cancelled or rescheduled a number of flights, upsetting travel plans of thousands of passengers. Similarly, the reported move to merge Air India and Vistara, a joint venture between Tata and Singapore Airlines is also creating turbulence in the sky. As the news regarding the merger became public, many Vistara pilots went on leave in protest against the proposed move alleging that it would affect their wage scales and professional standards. Moreover, efforts to bring two airlines under one umbrella has always created more trouble than solutions. For instance, two state-owned airlines namely Air India and the Indian Airlines were brought under a single umbrella in 2007 to make the new entity financially sound. But in reality, the burden of loss making Air India proved to be too much for the profit making domestic air carrier Indian Airlines. As a result, the government has had to sell the national air carrier to Tata, giving up its dream of creating an efficient and profit-making enterprise.

Presently, the Indian aviation sector is a two horse race and needs to be made broader. Apart from Indigo and Air India, which dominate nearly 86 per cent market share, other airlines too should get a chance to make their presence felt. For this reason, routes should be rationalised by effecting a proper balance between demand and supply. The tendency of not operating flights to non-profit areas should be curbed, apart from limiting the number of flights by any airlines to profitable destinations to create a level playing field for the Indian aviation sector to prosper.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 14, 2024 11:26:39 pm
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