Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday informed Parliament that the revenue of Indian airlines dropped by 85.7% to Rs 3,651 crore due to the coronavirus pandemic in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2020-’21 as compared to the same period last year, PTI reported.

“The revenue of Indian carriers has reduced from Rs 25,517 crore during April-June 2019 to Rs 3,651 crore during April-June 2020,” he said. Further, government-owned Air India’s revenue dropped to Rs 1,531 crore in the April-June 2020-’21 period from Rs 7,066 crore in the same timeframe a year ago, the Union minister said.

The number of employees at airlines also fell by 7.07% from 74,887 on March 31 to 69,589 on July 31, Puri said in a written reply to a question on the “impact of Covid-19 in the civil aviation sector” in the Rajya Sabha.

Employee count at airports went down to 64,514 on July 31 to 67,760 on March 31, The Tribune reported. The strength of employees at ground handling agencies came down from 37,720 to 29,254 in the April to July time period. Further, the employment at cargo operators fell from 9,555 to 8,538 in the same period.

Both domestic and international flights were grounded after India imposed a nationwide lockdown in March, soon after the first coronavirus cases began to emerge in the country. The Centre had allowed domestic flight services to resume on May 25, but at only one-third capacity. The cap was later increased to 45% and then to 60%. The suspension of international flights to and from the country has been extended till September 30.

However, special international passenger flights under the Vande Bharat Mission have been functional since May. India has also formed bilateral air bubble arrangements with a few countries and flights began operations since July.

In the Rajya Sabha, Puri said that domestic air traffic came down to 1.2 crore during the March-July period as compared to 5.85 crore a year ago. International air traffic dropped to 11.55 lakh in the same time frame this year as compared to a year ago, he added.

Further, airline data revealed that Indigo had the highest market share, accounting for 49.8% of the passengers, ferried from January to August this year. This was followed by Spicejet with 15.9% and Air India with 11.4% passengers.

In terms of passenger grievances, the most number of complaints were received on matters of ticket refunds. In August, 23,219 passengers suffered due to cancellation of flights. Flight delays further affected another 12,591 travellers. The Supreme Court has taken up a plea on the proposal of the Ministry of Civil Aviation that tickets booked in domestic and international carriers between March 25 and May 3 will be fully refunded. The court has sought a reply from the Centre on the matter.

India’s coronavirus count rose to 50,20,359 on Wednesday with 90,123 new cases in a day. The toll jumped by 1,290 to 82,066. As many as 39,42,360 people have recovered from the infection, taking the recovery rate to 78.53% The mortality rate, meanwhile, is 1.63%.

Follow today’s updates on the pandemic here