More than 20 lakh jobs are at risk in India's aviation space and dependent sectors in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to global airlines' grouping International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Commercial flight services have been suspended till May 3 as the government has extended the nationwide lockdown in continuing efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus infection, which has already affected more than 11,000 people in the country.
Faced with challenging business conditions, some domestic airlines have resorted to leave without pay and layoff of expat pilots.
Against the backdrop of the current situation that has also resulted in substantial economic disruptions, the IATA said airlines in India have not been spared.
The IATA on Wednesday said that airlines globally are now facing an existential crisis as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Airlines in India are not spared. Passenger revenue is expected to fall by more than $8.8 billion and passenger demand decline by 36 per cent. This puts over 2 million (over 20 lakh) jobs at risk, including sectors that are dependent on aviation," Albert Tjoeng, Assistant Director for Corporate Communications (Asia Pacific) at IATA, said.
He told PTI that the priority for the Indian government is to ensure that airlines have sufficient cash flow to tide them over this period, by providing direct financial support, facilitating loans, loan guarantees, and support for the corporate bond market.
"Taxes, levies, and airport and aeronautical charges for the industry should also be fully or partially waived," he added.
The IATA is a grouping of around 290 airlines, including Air India, Vistara, IndiGo and SpiceJet.
Globally, Albert Tjoeng said IATA is expecting a revenue loss of $314 billion and passenger demand to fall by 48 per cent compared to 2019.
Airlines are facing a liquidity crisis, burning $61 billion of their cash reserves in the second quarter of 2020, he added.
On Tuesday, IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said the industry's outlook grows darker by the day.
"The scale of the crisis makes a sharp V-shaped recovery unlikely. Realistically, it will be a U-shaped recovery with domestic travel coming back faster than the international market. We could see more than half of passenger revenues disappear. That would be a $314 billion hit," he had said.
He had also said that airlines could burn through $61 billion of cash reserves in the second quarter alone.
"That puts at risk 25 million jobs dependent on aviation. And without urgent relief, many airlines will not survive to lead the economic recovery," he had said.