Second Covid wave will delay air traffic recovery to end of FY23: Crisil

NEW DELHI: Ratings agency Crisil on Thursday said air traffic is expected to slump in FY22 and fully recover only by fourth quarter of next fiscal due to “the debilitating consequences” of the second Covid-19 wave in India.
The forecast is based on data analysis for top four private airports — Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad – which accounted for about 90% of air passenger traffic handled by private airports in India and over half of all air traffic in India last fiscal.
Restrictions during the second wave has seen passenger traffic at airports nosedive, with average daily domestic passenger traffic halving in May 2021 from February 2021, or to a mere about 10% of pre-pandemic levels seen in May 2019.
Crisil Ratings senior director Manish Gupta said: “Second wave will push back revival of business travel and pick-up of international traffic, which account for over half of overall traffic. Given this backdrop, we now expect traffic volumes this fiscal to be about 60% of fiscal 2020 levels and recovery to pre pandemic levels happening only by fourth quarter of fiscal 2023.”
Traffic volumes are expected to rebound once the present affliction curve starts to flatten.
“Ramp-up in domestic traffic was seen after the recommencement of airport operations in May 2020, with total passenger traffic reaching about 60% of fiscal 2020 levels by February 2021, within 9 months of the first domestic travel advisory. And a much faster recovery is expected this time based on the ongoing vaccination drive, push from government to limit the economic impact and recovery trajectory seen in countries that have emerged from a second wave,” Crisil said in a statement.
Normalisation in India is expected only by fourth quarter of fiscal 2023. This will lead to loss of Rs 900 crore revenue from earlier pre-second wave expectation of about Rs 7,500 crore of revenue in fiscal 2022.
Debt servicing obligations of airports would double next fiscal onwards as the servicing of debt taken for ongoing capacity expansion will commence.