As passenger traffic nosedived over the coronavirus, it was a blow to India’s already struggling airlines. On Tuesday, Indian budget carrier, GoAir put staff on unpaid leave, quoting a reduction in capacity, having also suspended all its international operations until 15 April.
“We are temporarily suspending all our international operations, starting 17 March to 15 April", said the airline in a statement. GoAir connects international destinations like Dubai, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Bangkok, and Phuket.
“GoAir has also initiated a short term and temporary rotational leave without pay programme that will not only help the company counter the short term reduction in capacity but will also ensure that a cross-section of our employees stay away from the workplace to ensure business continuity", the release added.
GoAir's decision comes a day after the global aviation consultancy, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) in a report stated that most international airlines might face bankruptcy by May due to COVID-19 wiping out their cash reserves. “Demand is drying up in unprecedented ways. Normality is not yet on the horizon", CAPA said.
“As the impact of the coronavirus and multiple government travel reactions sweep through, many airlines have probably already already been driven into technical bankruptcy", the report added.
In 2018, India received the distinction as the fastest growing domestic air travel market leaving behind China, Russia, the USA and Brazil, according to the International Air Transport Association, which pegged Indian passenger growth to 18.6 percent in 2018.
The coronavirus, which emerged at the end of 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has already taken over 7,500 lives and infected over 180,000 people globally. In India, three deaths have been reported due to the viral infection, while some 137 people are confirmed to be affected by the coronavirus or COVID-19, according to the federal Health and Family Welfare Ministry.