Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in an interview said that govt. will not ask airlines to remove or empty the middle seat to increase social distancing in the flight.
“Removing the middle seat is not part of the discussion because no one is recommending that… You still don’t have physical distance after removing the middle seat. Removing middle seat is not an idea I would pursue,” Puri said.
This could mean that when airlines, which already run-on wafer-thin margins in a bid to attract higher load factor, will be allowed to retain the number of seats after airlines resume services.
Puri suggested that airlines should encourage contact less checkin and customers should take precautions like wearing masks and protective gear while they travel. He said the Indian airlines have a short-term problem of paying loans to their debtors but could revive quickly as India has a wide customer base that would start travelling after the lockdown.
Indian carriers have been badly hit by the lockdown with estimates of revenue losses of Rs 24,000-25,000 crore for the sector this year.
“They have a short-term challenge on their hands. Unless we tide over the six weeks or whenever the sector is ready to open up, we will have difficulty further ahead,” Puri said.
He said that the government is working on a package for all the sectors including the aviation sector but warned that it would not be as large as some of the developed economies like the United States. US has promised a $25 billion package for the aviation sector alone.
“The government will carry on the reforms and will help wherever it can… we will take the required decisions going forward. We are not the United States, it is a $30 trillion economy, we should not draw comparisons with them,” Puri said.
(Source: ET Now)
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