Budget carrier GoAir has announced it will temporarily suspend its international operations and offered its employees to go on unpaid leave on a rotational basis, amid “unprecedented” decline in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

GoAir is forced to take certain measures — we are temporarily suspending all our international operations, starting March 17, 2020, until April 15, 2020. GoAir has also initiated a short-term and temporary rotational leave without pay programme 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 stays away from the workplace to ensure business continuity,” the airline said.

In a statement the airline said that the aviation industry has been one of the most affected by the coronavirus pandemic as governments have issued far reaching travel advisories, customers have curtailed their individual travel plans and businesses have restricted the movement of their employees. Special events have been postponed or called off, it added.

As per reports, the carrier plans to keep as much as 35 per cent of its workforce on leave without pay for a month. This would include staff at overseas airports. There is also a proposal to give 20 per cent pay cut for staff in a staggered manner to help the airline sustain till normalcy in passenger traffic returns, reports added.

India’s fourth-largest airline flies to 35 destinations, including eight international ones. The overseas destinations are Phuket, Male, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bangkok, Kuwait, and Dammam.

Similarly, another carrier Indigo told its pilots that they may no longer be asked to work for extra hours and the company is withdrawing the incentive of giving compensation in lieu of leave.

“Due to the ongoing threat of COVID 19 and various visa restrictions being placed, there is a likelihood of curtailment of our schedule. As a consequence, we will no longer be in need of extra availability in the coming months. Therefore, Admin Notice 36 E (Compensation in lieu of leave) is being withdrawn with immediate effect,” the airline told its pilots.

Tata Group’s Vistara is also chopping down its operational costs.

“As is the case across the industry, Vistara has seen a significant impact on operations. We are exercising stringent cost control and are evaluating all avenues for reductions as the situation continues to evolve. We are working to rationalise operational costs, including discretionary spending. We are also de-prioritising any non-customer facing spends right now. We have not considered sending our employees on forced or unpaid leave,” FE quoted Vistara’s spokesperson as.

Various reports across the globe have shown that world’s leading airlines (United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Emirates Airline, British Airways, Lufthansa Airline, Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines, Bangkok Airways et al) are struggling to cope in these difficult times. They have reduced their airfares between 30-45 per cent, they have also reduced flight capacity between 50 to 90 per cent in April and May.

(With input from agencies)