As states tighten the norms for air passengers, airlines have seen a 15 per cent drop in bookings. Airlines have seen a drop in bookings over mandatory negative reports mandated by multiple states. Several states and local city governments have asked passengers, especially from Maharashtra and Kerala to submit negative RT-PCR test results conducted within 2-3 days before the travel date.
Top airline executives have said that this rule has impacted travel in the past one week for travel. An airline executive said that loads across the industry had grown to 80-85 per cent in some cases. There is likely to be a 10-15 per cent impact in the coming month. Industry members said this was a setback, compounded by the recent hike in jet fuel prices.
Jet fuel prices that were hiked by 6.5 per cent on March 1 is likely to impact margins.
Executives believe that testing, nevertheless, is imperative. But it would help if the rule remained the same for the entire country instead of rules in some states. Passengers are more wary of the confusion than the tests, they believe, as mentioned in the daily.
Varied travel rules have impacted the industry. Corporate travel that had just started reviving has also been impacted, said executives. Test requirements and larger air of uncertainty have impacted the demand sentiment, said Rajiv Subramanian, Vice President of online travel agency Cleartrip to the daily.
Not only domestic travel, passengers arriving from UK, Europe and Middle East are also required to carry negative RT-PCR test reports. They will also have to pay for the molecular tests at Indian airports. While an RT-PCR test costs Rs 850 in Mumbai airport, the rapid molecular test is priced at Rs 4,500.
Air travel was completely halted in the months of April and May, beginning from the end of March. It led airlines to bleed profusely, resulting in job loss, salary cut, and halting of expansion. There has been a sharp recovery since. On February 28, as many as 313,688 passengers took domestic flights.