Aviation sector recovery to be gradual, says Fitch

Mumbai: Fitch Ratings expects average revenue passenger kilometres for India's airlines to remain 40 per cent below 2019 levels in 2021 despite recovering from being 65 per cent lower in 2020.

Domestic passenger traffic remains weak since flights resumed in late May after a two-month restriction with September data showing a 66 per cent yearon-year drop (58 per cent decline for 9M 20).

The government restricted airline capacity at 70 per cent of the March level and imposed fare bands until late February 2021.

"We expected market leader IndiGo to further consolidate its position from a 60 per cent share of domestic passengers in July due to liquidity pressure at rival airlines," said Fitch in its latest outlook for the sector released here on Wednesday (local time).

"However, its share declined to 57 per cent in September, which indicates smaller players are intensifying competition to regain share. This could limit gains for the industry from better traffic in 2021." For the global airline sector, Fitch expects operating conditions to improve in 2021 but only relative to the unprecedented downturn in 2020.

Spiking coronavirus cases in various regions and inconsistent travel restrictions will keep airline traffic low at least through the first part of 2021 with limited improvement expected relative to levels in 3Q 20 and 4Q 20.

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