New Delhi: IndiGo will sanitise its aircraft more frequently and briefly stop in-flight meal service, the domestic carrier said today as the airline and the aviation sector prepare for the lifting of a 21-day “total lockdown” imposed to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. The airline will also fill only 50 per cent seats in airport buses – which transport passengers from terminals to the planes.
“We have always been safety-conscious and now we must be health conscious as well. With this in mind, we are looking at changing many of our operating procedures,” Ronojoy Dutta, the airline’s CEO, said in an email to employees.
Among the new procedures, some of which have yet to be finalised, are deep cleaning aircraft more frequently, stopping meal service for a while and limiting the number of people in airport buses.
“In situations like these, companies do not manage to growth or profitability but to liquidity. Our singular focus is on cash flow. We are examining all our fixed costs and looking for ways to minimise them,” Mr Dutta wrote.
India’s aviation sector has been among those worst hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown; domestic and international flight operations have been suspended till April 14, at the earliest.
It is unclear if the lockdown, which began March 25, will indeed be lifted next week, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting this week it could be extended as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Should the lockdown be lifted, sources have said the aviation sector will have to follow certain rules, including keeping the middle seat (in a three-seat layout) empty in both Economy and Business class.
An extension of the lockdown will come as bad news for an already struggling aviation sector. Last month industry body FICCI warned Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri that several airlines near bankruptcy.
Last week regional airline Air Deccan became the first to cease operations until further notice and put employees on leave without pay. IndiGo had announced a pay cut of up to 25 per cent for senior employees.
The lockdown has also affected the aviation industry worldwide; this week Switzerland-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) said around 25 million jobs could disappear amid a plummeting demand for air travel.
The largest chunk of these jobs – 11.2 million – are in the Asia-Pacifc sector.
India has reported nearly 6,000 novel coronavirus cases and 199 deaths have been linked to the virus. Worldwide more than 16 lakh people have been infected and nearly 96,000 people have been killed.
Source By NDTV