Just a couple of days ago, on March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the COVID19 outbreak as a pandemic. Aviation and business travel is battered, but this declaration finally forced a lot of governments to re-rate their threat assessment of the situation. The same day, India closed their borders to all international travellers through April 15, 2020, and also close their borders to OCI cardholders, unless they are already in India as of March 13, 2020.
Airlines are already getting crushed. They use the money generated from future flights to operate current flights, hopefully, make a profit on those flights and then continue to do this forever. In the first signs that Indian aviation is not above the global trends, IndiGo issued a press statement saying,
- In January and February 2020, IndiGo experienced a modest impact from the Coronavirus. We cancelled our flights to China and Hong Kong and reduced frequency to specific other South-east Asia markets. This capacity was redeployed in different markets without having a material impact on our revenues.
- Over the past few days, however, week-on-week, we have seen a 15-20% decline in our daily bookings. Please note that the numbers could change from here based on how the situation evolves.
At the moment, we will be finding tonnes of sweet fare deals, because airlines will reduce their prices to attract customers. Two sales were launched by no-frills Indian airlines yesterday, March 12, 2020, and one a little earlier.
SpiceJet was the first off the block, launching a new sale for bookings between March 12 and 15, 2020, and travel over a year out in 2021. Most airline sales keep the peak travel periods, such as those of Diwali out of the ambit of sales because passengers will anyways pay a high price to go and be with their families over these festivals. Not just that, SpiceJet is also throwing in a free seat assignment and a meal with the fare. To an extent making it attractive to the general public but making me wonder what does this airline with a low cashflow want out of this sale.
GoAir also offered a new sale on March 12, 2020, as well for travel through June 2020. They are offering free rescheduling (fare difference will be charged). Not so alarming at all and everything points at this being just a regular sale which airlines do all the time to get some more people to book seats.
IndiGo has been already having a sale since March 9, through March 15 for travel between March 27 and September 30, 2020. IndiGo has added a complimentary seat assignment to sweeten the offer. But even otherwise, I won’t hesitate to book with IndiGo if the price is right, given their superior cash position and actual ability to operate flights well into the future.
I have already cancelled some of my upcoming bookings, and as a result, my busy March 2020 now is cleared out for the rest of March 2020 at the moment. The reason I am not booking tickets at the moment is also that we don’t know when this situation will be behind us.
Would love to hear if our readers are booking these cheap tickets at the moment or skipping them like I am?