Speaking at the India Today Conclave, Ajay Singh, CEO of SpiceJet, said that when Covid hit and the aviation sector was shut overnight due to lockdown, they had to think of new ways to earn revenue and pay salaries. “In aviation the big problem is that we have planes that we have taken on lease and we have to keep paying for them. We had 12,000 employees. When you are told to just shut down what happens to all the infrastructure that you have got, how does one pay for it. It was a devastating blow but we had to figure out what to do. We had salaries to pay,” he said.
Singh said that they started flying cargo. “We first put cargo on the seats. Then we took out seats from a large number of planes and we started flying stuff for Covid initially. The government of India needed medicines, equipment from places like China.”
He spoke about how they flew a PPE suit from Shanghai to Coimbatore where it was replicated. “We didn’t know in this country what a PPE suit was. The government asked us if we could fly down a plane to Shanghai, get a PPE suit and then fly it to Coimbatore where it was going to get replicated. One aircraft flew just that one PPE suit. There was nothing else in the plane except the PPE suit.”
Similarly, they were approached by shrimp farmers. “We told them we had never transported shrimp eggs but we figured out a way to do it. There were just so many commodities that had to go from one place to another," said Singh.
SpiceJet then took some wide body aircrafts and started flying commodities to the Middle East.
“Our thought process was that in this horrible adversity that we have what are the opportunities that we can find. And how can we stay alive. The new business helped us keep going and we could pay salaries. We didn’t sack anyone,” said Singh.
Also Read: SpiceJet flew one PPE suit from Shanghai to Coimbatore during the pandemic; here's why
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