(Representative image)

NEW DELHI: In a rude jolt to struggling-to-survive airlines, jet fuel price has been hiked by almost 50% in June. Now, a kilo litre (kl) of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) will cost Rs Rs 33,575, up by Rs 11,000 from last month. Schedule domestic flights had restarted last Monday only and the demand for air travel is so far very muted due to multiple factors like different quarantine rules in different states; concern over flying and overall poor economy.
For instance, aviation minister H S Puri Tweeted Sunday (May 31) saw 44,593 passengers on 501 domestic departures. This means an average of less than 100 on aircraft with seating capacity of up to 180. “Our average load factor has been in the range of 50%-60%. The tickets have mostly been one-way. Once this first wave of people stranded in different cities returning to hometowns is over, air travel will resume gradually as and when business activity picks up. Leisure travel is over for now and a long way off,” said an airline official.
For about a year till this February, ATF prices in Delhi were in the range of Rs 60-65,000 per kl. The prices started falling from March — by the end of which schedule flights had been suspended due to the nationwide lockdown. They touched their lowest point in recent times last month.
“Just when we were just beginning to take to the skies again, there has been a steep hike of 48%. With poor aircraft occupancy, higher fuel price and weaker rupee, airlines will need to closely examine how many planes should they be flying to keep costs in check as revenue stream is very weak,” said an official.
Airlines were given the nod to resume domestic operations with one-third of the original domestic summer schedule, from May 25. “Airline industry has got nor relief from the government in this crisis and now the ATF price hike only adds to our woes. Let us see who all can survive this downturn,” said another airline official.

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