SpiceJet’s chairman Ajay Singh is spending a lot of time in Delhi in front of civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola.
The coronavirus has rattled India’s airlines, a big change from their New Year optimism. Many of them do not have deep pockets so are vulnerable.
In January, the industry was happy with fare discipline, controlled capacity addition, the absence of rival Jet Airways, and a slow but gradual demand recovery.
On Wednesday, IndiGo told the stock market that its earnings would be materially impacted because of the disruption, and domestic bookings had fallen 15%-20%.
The airlines’ anxiety comes from their weak balance sheets.
Those in the know say Singh is lobbying with the government to bring jet fuel under GST – such a reform could bring a windfall in reduced taxation of jet fuel.
Perhaps also on the cards is flexibility in payments to oil companies.
IndiGo has a fleet of 255 planes and money in the bank. The Tata Group backs Vistara and AirAsia India, while the Wadia Group owns Britannia and Bombay Dyeing, runs GoAir.
Government help or not, Indian airline execs are preparing for the worst – and some without money in the bank or big owners. Changes ahead?