The Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) of India has written to the Union government, requesting urgent relief for the industry, so that they may continue operations to stay afloat. The aviation industry is among the worst-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The associationâ€™s statement highlights the issue of poor cash flow and the dire need to preserve jobs of people employed in this sector.
Moreover, Indiaâ€™s private airport operators have been incurring losses since March 2020 and are not in a position to generate revenue or manage their debt, which has further lowered their credit ratings. These make it all the more difficult for them to get back on their feet, as it lowers their eligibility for financial support from banks. The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought additional costs of establishing new operating procedures for the safe and efficient containment of the disease, and for ensuring that the passengers travel safely. This has led to a requirement for the use of extra expenses by the airport associations.
According to the association, the current second wave of COVID-19 has brought down the number of domestic passengers by 10-25% as compared to pre-COVID-19 times. The percentage of international passengers has reduced by 5-10%. In addition to this, the recovery of the domestic passenger traffic depends on factors like availability of vaccination, negative coronavirus test reports, improvement in quarantine measures, etc. Since there are no signs of restarting regular airport operations any time soon, the future of the financial survival of airports appears to be disastrous.
Reflecting on these situations, the APAO has requested the government for financial assistance and relief measures to reduce their burden. The statement also cites how various foreign governments like that of the USA, UK and the European Union provided funds and relief schemes to the aviation sector during the pandemic.