Tata Sons-backed AirAsia India expects full passenger traffic as well as capacity recovery in 2022 sans a third Covid wave triggered via the Omicron variant.
In a conversation with IANS, Ankur Garg, Chief Commercial Officer, AirAsia India cited that overall airline industry is operating at 83 per cent pre-Covid levels and the traffic has been recovering at a fast rate.
“Festive period beginning October saw a significant bounce back in passenger traffic which is continuing till the year-end.”
Besides, he cited that ‘Visiting Friends and Relatives’ (VFR) segment was the earliest to recover as people overcame inhibitions and travelled starting from Dussehra in October.
“There has been a steady uptick in leisure travel as well, particularly in leisure destinations on our network like Goa, Srinagar, Jaipur, Kochi, where there is a strong directionality in traffic around holidays and extended weekends indicating that people are travelling for leisure.”
“During the month of November, we have also seen an improvement in corporate traffic as ‘Work From Home’ mandates are being lifted gradually and people are returning to a full or partial ‘Work From Office’ model.”
According to Garg, relaxation in capacity restrictions and a gradual improvement in the economy has accelerated the demand for air travel.
“However, the sustainability of the same would depend on the pandemic situation and economic recovery going forward.”
On the upcoming year, Garg expects full traffic recovery to pre-Covid levels assuming no further severe pandemic waves hits the country.
“Over the course of the last 2 years, we have been working on many customer service, digital and revenue improvement initiatives.”
“The positive impact of such initiatives should be felt more prominently in the coming year once the traffic recovers to pre-Covid levels.”
Besides, he pointed out that passengers’ apprehensions around the new Omicron variant, as well as perceived uncertainties around quarantine, testing, lockdown rules by state governments, have had a dampening effect on bookings since the last week of November.
“While immediate travel plans remain unchanged, it appears that people are waiting to make bookings for farther out periods.”
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at email@example.com)