With `Coronavirus Pandemic’ soaring, air travel has been badly hit across the globe. Airlines all around the world are doing it tough, with International Air Transport Association (IATA)figures estimating the COVID-19 crisis will see airline passenger revenues drop by $US314 billion in 2020.
The deadly virus has forced countries to close their borders and banned people from traveling overseas. With people locked down in their homes even domestic travel has been hit as the case maybe. Virgin Australia, associated with the flamboyant billionaire Richard Branson is the first calamity. Last week, the Airlines announced that they are going into voluntary administration.
In India, the domestic and international flights were suspended post March 25 after the lockdown was announced. The April-June period is one of the stronger quarters for Indian Airlines and the travel industry. But not this year.
Should you go ahead with your summer travel bookings?
There’s uncertainty prevailing on how long lockdown period will last. As a result of this, people do not know whether they should go ahead with their bookings or wait? Many who had already booked their flight tickets are still struggling to get their refunds back as they have been promised re-booking. Though, the outlook for the coming few months looks bleak but people are itching to travel. And many who are stuck across the globe want to reach their destinations.
Looks like the April-June period might be a complete washout and maybe the July –September quarter the booking might pick up. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) India projects that India’s aviation market will lose between $3.3 and $3.6 billion in the first quarter of financial year 2021. Even with partial resumption of services in May and June, the financial outcomes may not change significantly.
Future of air travel
In the near future, experts foresee higher fares and fewer routes. We all have to be prepared for a new era of air travel. A paradigm shift is underway as the world’s airlines reassess their operations and how they will look emerging from the crisis. At empty airports, mask-wearing and social distancing already show a behavioral change among the few staff and travelers left. Every aspect of flying is expected to change.
Cheap flights can be found for now as airlines compete for a handful of passengers. IATA’s chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac, said the “wearing of face masks might reassure passengers, but keeping middle seats empty would be challenging and reduce maximum seat capacity to below break-even levels.”
Temperature checks and health-related entry rules that may differ from country to country will be the order of the day. A rather time-consuming and complicated affair which might put off a few people. Air travel is all about trade, business and tourism. It is hard to predict on how airlines will rise up to the challenge, but as for now many have announced huge pay cuts for all the employees with no revenue at all.
How many airlines will whether the storm remains to be seen? Market watchers predict if this crisis goes on for too long and governments don’t bail them out, many airlines might fail.
Ministry of Tourism launches `Dekho Apna Desh’
Sensing a long-term lull in overseas travel, the Ministry of Tourism launched ‘Dekho Apna Desh’, a webinar series hosted by experts who will share key nuggets and information on destinations like Varanasi, Pondicherry, Ladakh, Kolkata and Lucknow. An official said the ministry would increasingly focus on building interest around key domestic destinations going forward this year.
A travel industry executive said virtual reality in travel was trending because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty around the ongoing lockdown. “Even if you can’t have the chance to travel, you can virtually see principalities of cities and legendary attractions of countries across the globe through these 360-degree experiences,” she added.
So, for now `Virtual BON VOYAGE’ is what we say !