Govt mulls relief package; may reduce charges for domestic airlines: Sources

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) The Centre is mulling a relief package to save Indias aviation sector which has been ravaged by the outbreak of coronavirus, sources said.

At present, the sector is the worst affected due to the outbreak. Airlines are forced to ground aircraft due to massive rate of cancellations, rebookings and truncated operations.

March has especially been hard on the sector, said an industry watcher citing domestic cancellation rate of 20 per cent.

This quarter had traditionally been considered as the lean season for the sector.

Accordingly, highly placed sources revealed that several meetings on the proposal have already taken place between the Aviation and Finance Ministry.

However, financial details of the move is not known as of now.

Nevertheless, sources indicated that a short term waiver or reduction in landing, parking and housing along with other aeronautical charges are being considered.

On its part, industry representatives have met senior officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry.

Earlier during the month, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters in New Delhi that government is aware of the situation being faced by the airline sector.

On March 11, airline major IndiGo said that it expects quarterly earnings to be materially impacted due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

It also pointed out that the rupee has also depreciated sharply which will have an adverse impact on its dollar denominated liabilities primarily on account of capitalised operating leases.

Last week, SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said that the sector is under a lot of pressure which is temporary.

Besides, a top Boeing official has said that coronavirus scare has brought down the air traffic in Asia Pacific region by more than 50 per cent.

According to Darren Hulst, Vice President and Global Head of Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, excluding China, in the rest of the Asia-Pacific market, the number of flights came down by about 50 per cent.

Earlier, global industry body International Air Transport Association (IATS) has estimated the combined revenue loss for airlines in the range of $63-113 billion.



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