Vaccine to Vacation: Inoculation drive to pump up airline sector

New Delhi (IANS) India’s aviation sector is set to become a major beneficiary of the massive anti-Covid vaccination programme which has re-ignited the confidence of the travellers.

Market insiders have cited that the commencement of the inoculation drive has raised travellers’ optimism, which will not only boost air travel, but also the entire hospitality value chain.

Consequently, industry players like ixigo have seen a surge in demand and search queries.

“We are already seeing a renewed sense of optimism among the travellers in the wake of the vaccine roll-out. Demand and search queries for travel are slowly increasing, while domestic travel is on the road to a strong recovery,” said Rajnish Kumar, Co-founder and CTO, ixigo.

“On the international front, we are still at 40 per cent of pre-Covid range in terms of bookings due to the current country restrictions. A widespread and effective distribution of the vaccine will be critical to get the international travel numbers back to normal,” he added.

India launched the biggest vaccination drive in the world on January 16. The programme is backed up by the country’s comparative advantage of having the largest vaccine manufacturing capacity in the world and a rich experience of mass inoculation drives against polio and measles.

“The pick up in leisure as well as business travel is dependent on the improvement in consumer sentiments, which in turn is dependent on the wide availability of a vaccine,” said Kinjal Shah, Vice President, ICRA.

India’s airline industry was heavily battered by the pandemic’s onslaught. It is now gearing up to deploy 100 per cent of the pre-Covid capacity.

“The rollout of the vaccination programme in India will surely provide confidence for higher mobility, including air travel,” said Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer at Acuite Ratings & Research.

“The pent up demand for travel both in the leisure and the business segment along with the attractive deep discount available from the airlines for near term travel is expected to facilitate a revival in the domestic airline sector,” Chowdhury added.

The latest passenger traffic data from sector regulator DGCA indicate that the growth in passenger volumes is not yet adequate enough for a revival in the airline sector.

The aggregate passenger traffic in December 2020 at 73.27 lakh was still 43.7 per cent lower on a year-on-year basis.

“The vaccine roll-out is a positive development. It is expected to give a boost to travel, tourism and hospitality industries. People will get more inclined to travel, thereby reigniting leisure as well as business travel,” a Senior IndiGo official told IANS.

According to a Vistara spokesperson: “The roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines has definitely given hope to the industry for a faster recovery. We are optimistic that this will now translate into positive sentiment and confidence, thus bringing about further revival of the industry.”

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