DEBT BURDEN ON THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY
The financial health of the Indian airline industry has nosedived, with the three listed airlines having reported a combined net loss of ` 36.4 billion in the first half of the fiscal. Domestic carriers that are grappling with high cost of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) and falling Rupee coupled with fierce competition, are estimated to require a massive capital infusion of around ` 350 billion over the next three to four years, as per ICRA Limited is an Indian independent and professional investment information and credit rating agency. These funds would help bring down the high debtlevels in the airline industry, said ICRA. Significantly, all the three listed airlines, Jet Airways, IndiGo and SpiceJet, are currently in red. While the average price of ATF has witnessed a increase of around 35 per cent during April to November 2018, over the same period last year, the average Rupee depreciated by 7.8 per cent against the US dollar, according to the rating agency. This has resulted in an increase in the cost per available seat kilometres of the airlines, not buttressed by an increase in yields, it added. In fact, yields have declined for most airlines despite the surging costs. This is due to the price-sensitive nature of the industry which is plagued by rising capacities, with domestic aviation sector likely to have significant over-capacity in the next two-three years. ICRA, in the note also said that while the domestic passenger growth continues to be robust, the challenges are equally confounding as airlines resort to predatory pricing so as to maintain their passenger load factors in an environment of increasing capacities.