India, UK see domestic flight numbers plummet

India and the United Kingdom saw an unprecedented decrease in the number of domestic flights yesterday. Both countries yesterday saw under 30 domestic flights each, one of the lowest ever for both.

IndiGo is the largest airline in India by passengers carried and fleet size. Photo by Ernest Leung │ AeroNewsX

India is the more significantly affected country, normally seeing thousands of daily domestic flights due to the country's large population and surface area. What once was an airspace with more than five airlines each offering hundreds of daily domestic flights, is now almost empty. India entered into lockdown on 25 March and is scheduled to last till 30 April. The only services running are for crew rescue flights or cargo operations.

The numbers are indeed unprecedented. India saw 29 domestic flights on 11 April compared to a daily average of more than 2500 pre-coronavirus. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom had just 21 domestic flights yesterday, compared to a daily average of over 500 before the coronavirus.

Many airlines, including the likes of Austrian, have said that they do not expect to see demand return back to normal this year. These unprecedented times have either emphasised or pushed airlines into losses, with some even declaring bankruptcy.

Since the demise of flybe, which had been struggling for months if not years, the UK has seen a drastic decrease in the number of domestic flights. While the likes of Loganair, Eastern Airways and Blue Islands have announced increases in frequencies as well as new routes, it hasn't matched the connectivity seen when flybe was around.

While the aforementioned airlines may be able to recover a lot of the market once held by flybe, it will, fatally, be another couple of years before connectivity within the UK is at a reasonable level.

Indeed, the UK isn't alone in the drastic domestic flight decreases. However, India is much better placed when it comes to returning to normal. IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir are all better placed than the likes of Loganair, Blue Islands and notably (yet quite obviously) flybe. The Indian carrier's assets are all worth a lot of money if the need for more cash may arise. India is notoriously busy and as such demand for air travel remains. Demand is quite obviously higher for domestic flights in India and it could possibly be considered easier for the carriers to recover losses from the pandemic.

The unprecedented challenges from the coronavirus pandemic are set to continue for the next couple of months if not years, having long term effects on the aviation industry as a whole.

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