Amid signs of an economic recovery, airlines in India seem to be resorting to new ways to improve their balance sheets. Domestic carrier SpiceJet is encouraging people to get back in the air by providing COVID-19 RT-PCR tests for as low as Rs 299, which is the cheapest in the country.
According to a Bloomberg report, SpiceHealth -- the healthcare arm of SpiceJet -- is also providing coronavirus screening facility to the general public for Rs 499.
SpiceHealth has also established mobile-testing facilities for people in New Delhi and Mumbai, wherein people can visit a facility or have a sample collected from their home for a minimum cost of Rs 499.
India's domestic aviation market is recovering faster than Singapore and Hong Kong that are still hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. A few ASEAN countries have almost no domestic business in the aviation sector. In the quarter ended December 31, 2020, no-frills carrier SpiceJet posted an overall loss of Rs 569.6 million (Rs 56.9 crore) against a profit of Rs 732 million (Rs 73.2 crore) for the corresponding period in the previous year.
Major losses have compelled airlines across the globe to find new revenue streams and Qantas Airways started renting out its Dreamliners for sightseeing trips over Antarctica. It even sold items like pajamas that are otherwise given free to premium passengers. Low-cost carrier AirAsia Group launched an e-commerce platform to sell fresh fruit and vegetables.
Regular international operations seem unlikely to resume in the near future or at least until vaccination programmes reach a certain target across the world. This year, the airline industry is expected to take a $95 billion hit. This is almost twice of what the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) had previous projected.