Following losses for three consecutive quarters, budget carrier IndiGo hopes to return back to normal levels by the end of 2021, according to Chief Executive Officer Ronojoy Dutta. Domestic operations are likely to return to pre-COVID levels by January or February next year, while recovery in international services will take longer due to quarantine norms and new coronavirus strain discovered in the United Kingdom, Dutta said in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday.
He also said the airline could slowly start rehiring employees in three months with improvement in operations.
"Doom and gloom is off the table and we are recovering pretty nicely, especially domestically," he said.
IndiGo, operated by Interglobe Aviation Ltd, had fired 10 per cent of its workforce, or nearly 2,300 employees, in view of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Besides, it had also slashed salaries of its senior staff by 15 to 35 per cent depending on their grades.
Dutta said that there is still "a lot of room" for growth in international routes, especially those of about six hours duration that can be served by single-aisle narrow body aircraft.
"We are anxious to get back into the international game in a big way and we have lots of plans for rapid growth," he said.
Extending gains for the second straight session, IndiGo share price gained 4.81 per cent to settle at Rs 1,649 apiece on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the stock had rallied over 4 per cent after falling over 10 per cent in intraday trade after the government banned all flights from the United Kingdom following the discovery of a new and more infectious coronavirus strain spreading in the country.
The IndiGo shares have delivered a return of over 100 per cent in nine months from its 52-week low of Rs 765.05 touched on March 24, 2020. The stock touched its 52-week high of Rs 1,786.95 on December 8, 2020.
By Chitranjan Kumar