Chennai: The Indian aviation industry has been severely hit due to the recent floods here. According to sector experts, the industry is believed to be staring at a collective loss of more than Rs 1,000 crore.
Commercial operators are suffering losses both due to flight cancellations and grounding of aircraft. It’s the private jets that took a massive hit with at least 6-7 of them either partially or completely damaged. “This is the first such incident where multiple carriers’ fleets have been stranded for more than a week. The losses are not just due to flight cancellations, but also non-operation of fleets. The combined loss could be more than Rs 1,000 crore,” Prem Kumar Pandey, Assitant vice president, Truejet, a regional carrier, told Express.
Typically, a 70-seater aircraft turns up a loss of Rs 8 lakh due to non-operation of a 2-hour flight. More number of seats implies more losses.
“Cancellation of one route will have a multiplier effect on airline’s operations,” pointed out Mittu Chandilya, MD & CEO, Air Asia India, which runs 10 flights from Chennai. According to Chandilya, Air Asia counts a passenger load factor of 80 per cent and this being the peak season, losses could be significant. “Because of flight cancellations, we need to do a lot of forward planning to ensure that the rest of our operations are unaffected,” he said, adding that the airline is taking stock of the situation in Chennai.
It’s no different for another regional carrier Air Costa, which parks four flights at Chennai, including two 112-seaters. Chennai accounts for nearly 20 per cent of its overall operations. “We took a timely decision to move our aircraft. They are currently parked at Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Vijayawada. Our ground handling equipment is severely damaged,” said Vivek Choudhary, CFO, Air Costa.
Chennai being one of the largest international airports in the country, several aircraft operators use it as their southern hub. Most carriers like SpiceJet, Air India, Indigo and Jet Airways also park their fleets, some of which have been partly submerged along with ground handling equipment like push-up trucks and diesel generators, when the airport was inundated with flood water for 4-5 days.
“None of the aircraft maintenance is done in India and carriers have to take out the engine to determine the magnitude of the damage. Commercial aircraft are in-built to withstand such instances. It’s the private jets that were hit badly,” said a senior airline executive.
When the calamity struck, at least 10-15 private jets were parked at the airport, including those belonging to Joy Jets, part of Joy Alukkas and Kalyan Jewellers.
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