The impact of coronavirus hit the Chennai airport severely with international passenger arrivals dropping by 22 to 26 per cent as flights are being cancelled, according to officials. The international terminal of the airport wore a deserted look as many flights have been cancelled due to stringent visa restrictions.
The international sector took a hit as the demand for flights have fallen drastically due to government curbs on travel. Airport sources said that the domestic sector is also not doing well with three to four per cent reduction in passenger arrivals.
The sector is gearing up for a further slowdown in the domestic sector as coronavirus cases across India have been on the rise.
“Now, you have travel restrictions from Kuwait. Even flights to Qatar have come down. Singapore Airlines have already cancelled a couple of flights. On Sunday, even Japan Airlines flight did not arrive and Cathay Pacific has also cancelled some of their services,” the official said.
As passenger frequency is declining, some airlines are flying planes with no passengers or ‘ghost flights’, in order to hang on to take-off and landing slots. “We have been facing this phenomenon. Many flights having a capacity of 290 passengers will have 40 passengers. This is forcing many airlines to cut down on frequencies,” the airport official said. The official added that the flight departures have also come down by 10 to 12 per cent.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has updated its analysis of the financial impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency on the global air transport industry.
IATA fears 2020 global revenue loss in worldwide passenger revenues could be at 19 per cent, which equates to $113 billion.
Sources in the Airline industry said that to stimulate the domestic sector, many airlines could cut prices to remain afloat but it needs to be seen whether Indian domestic passengers would prefer to remain indoors or rather take the risk to avail the freebies of cheaper travel.
After visa restrictions put forth by Kuwait, seven flight services from Chennai to Kuwait has been cancelled.