The Indian aviation market has contracted to just over one-fourth of its FY2020 level, with discretionary travel continuing to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, aviation advisory firm CAPA India has said.
"In FY2020 the market comprised approximately 205 million passengers (140 million domestic and 65 million international). CAPA India estimates that the size of the addressable market in FY2021 is around 50-60 million (40-50 million domestic and less than 10 million international)," CAPA India said in its mid-year outlook report released on October 29.
The report pointed out that discretionary travel segments, including business, leisure and foreigners traveling on the domestic network, accounted for 55 percent of the pre-COVID-19 market. "Most of these segments have evaporated and are unlikely to return until the pandemic is under greater control or deployment of a vaccine is widespread," said CAPA India.
With these segments sluggish at the moment, airlines are dependent on traffic coming from passengers taking to the air in case of emergencies, or when they are visiting friends and relatives (VFR).
"VFR traffic accounted for around 45 percent of pre-COVID traffic but not all of this segment will be realised as nonessential travel is likely to be deferred," the report said.
On international travel, the firm said demand may be down by 70 percent.
The subdued outlook comes just when the airlines have got their winter schedules, which are much lower than last year's. Domestic flights, which resumed in May, are capped at 60 percent of the capacity. Still, CAPA India said traffic had returned to only 35 percent of the pre-COVID-19 levels, as on September 2020.This doesn't take into account the possible surge in bookings that airlines will be seeing because of the festive season.