The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, has said that the coronavirus pandemic, which has grounded the aviation industry in India and its dependent sectors, could lead to a loss of over 20 lakh jobs, PTI reported on Thursday. The Centre on April 14 suspended commercial flights till May 3, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the nationwide lockdown in place since March 25

Facing challenging business conditions, some airlines have already begun to retrench employees or force them to take leave without pay.

The IATA, which is a grouping of around 290 airlines, including Air India, Vistara, IndiGo and SpiceJet, said on Wednesday that globally, airlines now face an existential crisis, and Indian aviation has not been spared. “Passenger revenue is expected to fall by more than $8.8 billion [Rs 67,582 crore] and passenger demand decline by 36% [in India],” IATA Assistant Director for Corporate Communications (Asia Pacific) Albert Tjoeng said. “This puts over 2 million [over 20 lakh] jobs at risk, including [in] sectors that are dependent on aviation.”

Tjoeng told PTI that the Indian government should partially waive taxes, levies, and airport and aeronautical charges for the aviation industry. It should also ensure that airlines have sufficient cash flow, by providing loans, direct financial support, facilitating loans, loan guarantees, and support for the corporate bond market, he said.

Google’s parent Alphabet Inc. to go slow on hiring

Search engine Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. will go slow on hiring for the remainder of 2020, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai told Google staff in an email on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported. He also said the company will be “recalibrating the focus and pace of our investments in areas like data centers and machines, and non business essential marketing and travel”.

“The entire global economy is hurting, and Google and Alphabet are not immune to the effects of this global pandemic,” Pichai wrote. “We exist in an ecosystem of partnerships and interconnected businesses, many of whom are feeling significant pain.”

At the end of 2019, Alphabet Inc. employed 1,18,899 people on a full-time basis. An unidentified Google spokesperson said that the company will now focus on hiring only in strategic areas, and getting on board those who have already been hired. The firm had hired over 20,000 employees last year.

Wipro to go slow, too

Indian information technology major Wipro also said that it will hire more slowly this year, Moneycontrol reported on Wednesday. The number of people employed by the firm declined by 4,500 in the fourth quarter of 2019-’20, due to slow on-boarding.

Wipro Chief Human Resources Officer Saurabh Govil said that the company was able to reduce its employee headcount by utilising its existing resources and going slow on hiring in the fourth quarter. This, he said, resulted in higher utilisation rates. The company’s utilisation rate stood at 73.4% in the March quarter as opposed to 70.2% in the December quarter. Utilisation rate is the percentage of time a person spends working that can be billed to the company’s clients.

Wipro is also likely to defer salary revisions and promotions. The company is also likely to see deferrals in payments and restructuring of existing contracts. “There has to be a trade-off, which will be in hiring, salary increases and sub-contracting costs,” Wipro CEO Abidali Neemuchwala said.

India has so far reported 12,380 cases of the coronavirus, including 414 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.