IndiGo recovering from Covid-19 ‘carnage’, may rehire employees

IndiGo, India’s biggest airline, could start slowly rehiring staff in three months as capacity rebuilds from “the background of carnage” caused by Covid-19, with domestic services likely to return to pre-pandemic levels by January or February, Chief Executive Officer Ronojoy Dutta said.

“Doom and gloom is off the table and we are recovering pretty nicely, especially domestically,” Dutta said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday. The recovery in international capacity will take longer due to quarantines and virus flare ups in places such as the UK, but the airline is hoping it will be back to normal levels by the end of 2021, according to Dutta.

IndiGo, which has some 730 Airbus SE A320neo planes on order, laid off about 10% of its workforce due to the pandemic-driven slowdown. The carrier, operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., still sees “a lot of room” for growth in international routes, particularly those of about six hours duration that can be served by single-aisle narrowbody aircraft, Dutta said. India’s hubs are well positioned, he said.

“We are anxious to get back into the international game in a big way and we have lots of plans for rapid growth,” he said.

InterGlobe’s shares rose 2.2% Wednesday morning. They have climbed 20% this year, while a Bloomberg gauge of Asia Pacific airlines has dropped 21% and an index of global carriers is down 29%.

Rather than having too many planes on order, IndiGo may have not ordered enough given the huge growth potential for air travel in India as the middle class expands and more people start to fly, Dutta said. The company is in early discussions with engine manufacturers for planes due for delivery from 2024.

The chief executive said IndiGo, which in August announced a share sale to bring in as much as 40 billion rupees ($540 million), isn’t looking to raise more funds. The company’s strategy remains focused on reducing costs and rapidly growing its operations, Dutta said.

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