The travel and tourism industry has been the most affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic as it has come to a screeching halt, said Rajni Hasija, President and CEO of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), at the HT Tourism Conclave.
During the first wave of Covid-19 in 2020, the IRCTC resumed operations with only 15 passenger trains in which only needs-based travel was allowed, Hasija said, adding that there were massive cancellations for inbound tourism.
“Even during the pandemic years, IRCTC could generate profits for our investors and we were back in mass tourism ahead of other industry partners,” Hasija said on Tuesday. “I am happy to report that we are happy to return with the highest profit ever.”
However, the scenario is not the same for the country’s aviation sector, which has yet to recover from the financial losses it suffered during the pandemic, said Parampreet Singh Bakshi, Vice President, South Asia. , Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), a consulting firm.
Indian aviation handled 106 million passengers last year with an 8:2 ratio between domestic and international flights, respectively, Bakshi said. “This year, however, is looking better and we expect 130-140 million domestic travelers and 55-60 million international travelers to fly,” he said.
However, the rise in air passenger numbers has not translated into impactful financial performance, Bakshi said, adding that while air traffic figures have improved, financial performance still lags.
“Last year, airlines suffered losses of $3 billion and this year CAPA is forecasting losses of around $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion,” he said. “Therefore, airlines still have time to recover in terms of financial performance.”
In terms of air traffic, CAPA predicts that airlines will see international traffic return to pre-Covid-19 levels by next year, Bakshi said. “As far as airports are concerned, they are expected to make half a billion dollars in profit this year, subject to revenue sharing.”
Commenting on the recent aviation incidents in the Indian skies, Bakshi said: “Aviation incidents are commonplace…As long as airlines don’t take shortcuts, there is no problem in terms of ‘minor incidents.’
He said air travel remains the safest mode of transportation. “If airline finances improve, it will boost passenger confidence,” he added.