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Recovery flight: Airlines gear up to deploy more capacity as traffic rises

The sector was heavily dented by Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown as passenger air services were suspended from March 25 till May 25.

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Preparing for Landing

New Delhi, Dec 6 : Rising passenger numbers have lifted the prospects of India’s Covid battered airline sector, as industry players rush to augment capacity, increase hiring and scale up operations.

In terms of numbers, the domestic passenger traffic has gradually risen from 30,000 on May 25 to 2.52 lakh on November 30.

The Centre has allowed airlines to deploy up to 80 per cent of their pre-Covid flight capacity.

Besides, the capacity augmentation has also lifted the stock prices of listed airlines.

The sector was heavily dented by Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown as passenger air services were suspended from March 25 till May 25.

Asked about the readiness to deploy more capacity, Willy Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer of IndiGo, said: “We are certainly ready and preparing to deploy 80 per cent of our previous capacity in the domestic market.”

“We look forward to getting back to 100 per cent in due course, early in 2021. So far demand has been robust and we believe it will continue to grow steadily. We remain very confident in the longer term future of Indian aviation.”

Recently, the airline major resumed operating 1,000 daily flights.

These flights are to and from 59 domestic and six international destinations. They include scheduled commercial operations and air bubble flights.

Similarly, a senior Vistara official said: “We are already at close to 70 per cent and working towards the 80 per cent mark, subject to slot approvals from various airports.”

In October, all major airlines reported a higher PLF level than 60 per cent with SpiceJet and IndiGo at 74 per cent and 68 per cent, respectively.

The monthly domestic passenger traffic has steadily increased from only 19.8 lakh in June 2020 to 52.71 lakh in October 2020.

On the hiring prospects of the industry, Kinjal Shah, Vice President, ICRA, said : “They do have the capacity and some airlines were already prepared to increase capacity when government permits it.”

“Pilots hiring may be required, since airlines have laid-off many of them. As far as other employees are concerned, many are on leave without pay as of now, so they can be called back immediately.”

Despite this upswing, ICRA still expects FY21 to witness a higher decline of 62-64 per cent in domestic passenger traffic, than its earlier estimates of 41-46 per cent decline.

The domestic passenger traffic is expected to reach a much lower level than that of FY11.

On its part, India Ratings & Research views capacity addition as a credit positive event, supportive of operating cash flows and thus helping alleviate some of the stress in the sector.

“While risk of additional waves of the pandemic remains, we believe possibility of blanket ban on air travel (similar to April-May-2020) remains low,” said Abhishek Nigam, Associate Director, India Ratings & Research.

“Ind-Ra believes recovery in airline sector will continue in FY22 too as macro-economic situation improves (on a y-y basis) and corporate as well as tourism related demand recovers. Gradual resumption of international flights will be another next key event to watch out for in the coming months.”

Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer, Acuite Ratings & Research, said: “The airlines companies expect approval for full capacity operations within the next 2-3 months and therefore, they have already been making preparations for the necessary ramp up.”

“Most of the players have been operating their own acquired fleet and for higher capacities, they would have to lease aircrafts which they may have surrendered earlier. While that may take 1-2 months, it should not be a significant challenge.”

“Further, Boeing 737 Max has been again permitted to operate by the US aviation regulator and DGCA may also take a decision shortly which would help SpiceJet to utilise the grounded fleet of that aircraft over the near to medium term.”

In contrast, a few industry industry have cautioned against the move, especially, given the specific state wise travel requirements as well as fears of overcrowding at the airport.

At present, few state governments have mandated furnishing of a negative RT-PCR test at the point of arrival, and this has constrained capacity in some of the major domestic routes.

However, analysts opined that growth in business, leisure and regional travel segments will compensate for route specific low demand caused due to temporary restrictions.

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Azim Premji and Dr Devi Shetty chosen for PCB awards

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

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Azim Premji Wipro

Bengaluru, Jan 19: The chairman of Wipro Limited Azim Premji and the founder chairman of Narayana Health Dr Devi Prasad Shetty are among those who have been selected for the annual awards given by the Press Club of Bangalore.

Premji has been chosen for ‘Press Club Person of the Year’, while Dr Shetty and actor-Director Sudeep Sanjeev have been selected for the ‘Press Club Special Award.’

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa will facilitate the awardees at a function scheduled for the third week of February, it said.

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Elizabeth Olsen: Nepotism creates fear that you don’t deserve the work you get

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

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Elizabeth Olsen

Los Angeles, Jan 19 : Hollywood star Elizabeth Olsen says she once thought of changing her surname and distance herself from the success of her family because it was insanity growing up in the spotlight.

“It was insanity. There were times when my sisters would always be spotted and I would be in the car with them and it would really freak me out. It has helped me navigate how I want to approach my career,” said the actress, whose older sisters are Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen.

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

Elizabeth opened up om the fears of nepotism.

“The thing about nepotism is the fear that you don’t earn or deserve the work. There was even a part of me when I was a little girl that thought if I’m gonna be an actress I’m going to go by Elizabeth Chase, which is my middle name. And then, once I started working, I was like, ‘I love my family, I like my name, I love my sisters. Why would I be so ashamed of that?’ It’s fine now,” she said.

The actress said fame has made her more of a homebody.

“Fame has also made me someone who is more of a homebody than maybe I would like to be but I know where not to go. If I could do whatever I wanted for the day, I’d start with the gym, then I’d go to the grocery store, because it’s my favourite thing,” Elizabeth told The Sun.

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Covid-19 vax: WHO warns of ‘catastrophic moral failure’

He said over 39 million vaccine doses had been given in 49 richer states – but one poor nation had only 25 doses.

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO

Geneva, Jan 19 : The world faces a “catastrophic moral failure” because of unequal Covid-19 vaccine policies, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was not fair for younger, healthy people in richer nations to get injections before vulnerable people in poorer states, the BBC reported.

He said over 39 million vaccine doses had been given in 49 richer states – but one poor nation had only 25 doses.

Meanwhile, both the WHO and China were criticised for their Covid response.

An independent panel commissioned by the WHO said the UN public health body should have declared an international emergency earlier, and also rapped China for not taking public health measures sooner.

So far, China, India, Russia, the UK and the US have all developed Covid vaccines, with others being made by multinational teams – like the American-German Pfizer vaccine.

Almost all of these nations have prioritised distribution to their own populations.

Speaking at a WHO executive board session on Monday, Tedros said: “I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.”

Tedros said a “me-first” approach would be self-defeating because it would push up prices and encourage hoarding.

“Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering,” he added.

The WHO head called for a full commitment to the global vaccine-sharing scheme Covax, which is due to start rolling out next month.

“My challenge to all member states is to ensure that by the time World Health Day arrives on April 7, Covid-19 vaccines are being administered in every country, as a symbol of hope for overcoming both the pandemic and the inequalities that lie at the root of so many global health challenges,” Tedros said.

So far, more than 180 countries have signed up to the Covax initiative, which is supported by the WHO and a group of international vaccine advocacy groups. Its aim is to unite countries into one bloc so they have more power to negotiate with drug companies.

Ninety-two countries – all of them low or middle-income – will have their vaccines paid for by a fund sponsored by donors.

“We have secured two billion doses from five producers, with options of more than one billion more doses, and we aim to start deliveries in February,” Tedros said.

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