Government has to bring Bio-Security component in Air Travel to bring back the confidence of passengers

No.PR-159 July 8, 2020 New Delhi Government has to bring Bio-Security component in Air Travel to bring back the confidence of passengers PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted an interactive webinar on ‘Aviation Industry’s Route to Recovery’ with an august presence of delegates from government and various verticals of the industry. Ms. Usha Padhee, IAS, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation emphasized the need to create an institutional mechanism where both the Govt. and Industry can work together. She highlighted that the Government is focusing on policies and restructuring reforms which will help in bringing back the confidence of the passengers in the Aviation Sector. Talking about the experience of the Indian Aviation sector, she mentioned that there was a stop in the operation for some time but we started our air cargo within and outside the country. She also discussed the success of Vande Bharat Mission, the role of the state, and ensuring proper health safety of the passengers. She emphasized that the Government has to bring biosecurity components in air travel which is of paramount importance with a multi-level approach. Mr. Bart D’Souza, Head Aerospace, India British Deputy High Commission while deliberating on the current crisis in the Aviation industry mentioned that aviation has the tremendous capability of growth with advanced technologies like automation and artificial intelligence. Talking about consumer confidence which remains a key element, he said that it will take some time to restore. While discussing the industry’s route to recovery, he shared that this pandemic has given us shocks leading to a change in the business landscape and operating environment. There is a global impact of this pandemic, he stated that the industry recovery route manifests three simultaneous places which respond, recover, and determining the new normal. Talking about the initiatives taken post lockdown with the establishment of task forces, planning communication, supply chain, financial assessments, and managed business continuity. He also discussed the optimistic initiatives taken by the government to boost the industry and assured that more will be done shortly. Mr. Bart D’Souza highlighted that there have been scheduling of working of business and maintenance of the lifecycle base. Looking back, this has been an opportunity in terms of capacity utilization and the successful implementation of some international cargo projects. We have to identify the customers and market which includes identifying the complementarities and capabilities of manufacturing and MRO and optimize resources and capabilities. H.E. Dr. Ahmed A.R. Albanna, Hon’ble Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to India, while apprising the strategic relationship between UAE and India, highlighted that Air Cargo is one segment that hasn’t been majorly affected by COVID – 19 crises, especially between India & UAE. He shared the measures and precautions taken by UAE flights to ensure the health of its employees and passengers. He discussed creating a hub in India that will benefit the relations of India and UAE. The travel and tourism industry plays a major role in the GDP of the economy of UAE, vital for economic development especially for creating employment opportunities, leveraging economic activities, and international relations. He shared the process of recovery of aviation which included the collective intervention of health and government globally, following rules at airports and flights and others. The session had deliberation from industry stalwarts from the Airline sector which included Mr. Ajay Singh, Chair & Managing Director, Spicejet Ltd; Mr. Sunil Bhaskaran, Managing Director and CEO- AirAsia (India) Ltd. (Air Asia) and Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy & Revenue Officer, IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Ltd). Mr. Ajay Singh while lauding the government moves towards reoperation of the flights with contactless travel. He shared the new procedure to be followed in the airport and flights ensuring contactless, safe, and seamless traveling. He shared that there is a need to build confidence among the masses which can be done with the dissemination of information. We are flying with fewer passengers with fewer load factors as well. It’s challenging times and we have to think out of the box. We need to use this opportunity to try and collect the imbalances in the industry like the structural problems, get aviation turbine fuel under GST and tackle this crisis into an opportunity, said Mr. Ajay Singh. Mr. Sunil Bhaskaran while sharing the airline perspective states that aviation is a very important part of GDP and looks forward to the support from the Government towards uplifting this industry. He shared his views that one should utilize the crisis time to uplift the Indian Aviation Sector and create policies for the benefit of the sector. He shared that there is a rapid change in the working of this industry and a new protocol has been followed. There is a shift towards contactless and using digital for moving the upper scale. There is an increase in the number of passengers as compared to last month which means a boost in the passengers’ confidence. The airline is a safe and quick medium of traveling. Mr. Sanjay Kumar showing hope that the business of the aviation sector will come back and safety will be the key priority for all the stakeholders in the present and future. He stated that the airline industry is going through turmoil and there is an urgent need to build the confidence of the people. We need to improve infrastructure, reduce financial costs, and increase the load factor. There will be a focus on digital base business, handling customers digitally, and contactless travel. Mr. Pradeep Panicker, Chief Executive Officer, GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd while deliberating about the situation of Airports post lockdown, mentioned that airports are doing their bit to ensure the safety of the passengers and as well as of their employees. He discussed issues being faced by the airports and the rules and procedures followed in the airport to ensure the safety and sanitization of passengers and employees. Dr. D.K. Aggarwal, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in his presidential remarks mentioned that while this pandemic has disrupted the world and every sector, it has affected the aviation, travel and tourism sector. While some countries have resumed their flight operations by taking all the precautions and measures but this is a long process that will take time. Taking about the losses and future growth of the industry, he deliberated about the drop in the number of flyers due to the fear of catching the virus despite preventive measures and protective standards set by the flights. He gave some suggestions which can give ignition to the industry which include the announcement of the package for the aviation sector; reduce taxes; bring AFT in the GST net and subvention of airport changes. He assured that PHD Chamber stands in full support and solidarity with its industry members. Mr. Arun Bhagat, (GMR-DIAL) & Chair, Civil Aviation Committee, PHD Chamber in his welcome address gave an overall industry perspective of aviation pre and post the lockdown and the ways they can boost themselves. He shared industry reports and said that there is a drop in the cargo revenue of the global economic slowdown. There is a fear to not generate substantial cash flows to sustain the business. While lauding the Vande Bharat Mission and other initiatives undertaken by the government, he said that this has given some relief to the passengers and cushion to the industry. There is a need for a quick restart of international flights, an increase in the frequency of trunk routes, and a comprehensive plan to revitalize the value chain. There is a need to bring passengers confidence back into the Aviation Sector. Mr. Saurabh Sanyal, Secretary-General, PHD Chamber delivered a formal vote of thanks to all the eminent delegates and other participants. He ended the webinar with a hope that COVID 19 leaves the World by the end of this year and the world gets back to normal soon. The webinar was moderated by Dr. Ranjeet Mehta, Principal Director, PHD Chamber, and received extensive participation of more than 200 participants Pan-India. Ends Media Division PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry