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GoAir asks staff to go on leave without pay and suspends international flights over Covid-19 scare

According to Live Mint, Facing low travel demand due to travel restrictions as a result of outspread of Covid-19, WadiaGroup-controlled no-frill carrier GoAir Ltd. has asked a section of its employees to go on short-term leave without pay, a spokesperson of the airline said on Tuesday.

GoAir has also initiated a short-term and temporary rotational leave without pay program that will not only help the company counter the short-term reduction in capacity, but will also ensure that a cross section of our employees stay away from the workplace to ensure business continuity,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The Mumbai-headquartered airline has suspended its international operations until April 15, because of travel restrictions due to the outspread of Covid-19 pandemic.

The airline flew to a number of international destinations like Maldives, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Dubai, Dammam, Kuwait, Phuket and Bangkok, before it began cancelling flights amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Mint that some staff from every department at the airline have been asked to go for as long a month’s leave.

“From departments which house customer facing staff, to cabin crew, some staff from all departments have been asked to go for leave as the airline has reduced operations due to the outspread of Covid-19,” the person mentioned above said requesting anonymity.

Aviation industry lobby group The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that the Covid-19 outbreak, if not further contained, could cost airlines as much as $113 billion in lost revenue.

Indian airlines, which have been reeling with high costs, and a weak travel appetite before the outbreak of the virus, has been forced to cancel or curtail international operations. The low appetite for domestic travel have also impacted the industry adversely.

“The aviation industry has been one of the most affected (by Covid-19) as governments have issued far reaching travel advisories, special events have been postponed or called off, customers have curtailed their individual travel plans and businesses have restricted the movement of their employees,” the airline spokesperson said in a statement adding that a sharp decline in air travel the airline is currently experiencing is unprecedented.

An industry official said that other Indian airlines, which have suspended capacity, could also follow suit soon and send some of its staff on leave.

“Other airlines will be forced to send staff on leave to contain costs but they may not announce it like GoAir,” the said the official, who too requested anonymity.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines (SIA) on Tuesday suspended additional services across its network.

“Today‚Äôs suspensions mean that SIA will operate only 50 per cent of the capacity that had been originally scheduled up to end-April,” the airline said in a statement.

“Given the growing scale of the border controls globally and its deepening impact on air travel, SIA expects to make further cuts to its capacity,” it added.

Globally, more than 7,461 people have died due to Covid-19, while the number of those infected stands at over 186,409. Many governments globally, including the US, have implemented a temporary travel ban in their country.