Coronavirus scare: Domestic air traffic may fall 15-20%

Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said coronavirus scare may lead to a 15% -20% drop in domestic air traffic, while stressing that India would overcome the challenge and see robust growth in the civil aviation sector. The current challenges in the sector can be converted into opportunities as the aviation industry has ushered in an era of expansion, driven by factors such as low cost carriers (LCCs), modern airports, FDI in domestic airlines, usage of advanced IT systems and growing emphasis on regional connectivity.

“There may be about 15-20% drop in domestic air traffic due to the coronavirus outbreak, but it will soon be business as usual,’’ he said at the Wings 2020 aviation conference in Hyderabad. “We are at a point where we need to bring aviation turbine fuel (ATF) cost, which forms 40% of the operating cost for an airline, under GST and, by and large, there is acknowledgment from across states to make it happen,” he said.

Puri said India was well on course to become third-largest civil aviation market. While the number of air passengers handled by the country is likely to go up from the current 345 million per annum to one billion by 2030, with the kind of penetration and double-digit growth, the aviation industry can achieve the target much before 2030, may be by 2024-25, he said.

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