Sea and road transport recovering, air transport still under pressure: Ind-Ra

Mumbai (Maharashtra), September 28 (ANI): The sea and road transportation segment witnessed a continued recovery on a month-on-month basis in August though it remains lower year-on-year, according to India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra).

Ports volumes continued the recovery trend displayed in June and July by improving to 85 to 90 per cent of the pre-COVID levels. In August, E-way bill collections rose 2 per cent m-o-m while railway volumes were up 4 per cent y-o-y.

With airline carriers re-starting operations from June, said Ind-Ra, air transport activity too is normalising with plant load factor at around 65 per cent for flights though substantial fleet remains grounded and passenger numbers in July were significantly below normal levels.

The overall major port volumes witnessed a monthly improvement in August, though the volume trade remains lower y-o-y. The overall major port volumes recovered in August, reporting a decline of 10 per cent y-o-y. During April to August, the overall volumes fell by 17 per cent.

The recovery in monthly volumes was led by 38 per cent and 29 per cent increase in imports of iron ore and fertilisers respectively. Dwell time for import containers at JNPT Port witnessed a monthly improvement to 22 hours in July with a gradual resumption of business activities.

At the same time, said Ind-Ra, port dwell time for export containers increased marginally to 75 hours in July.

Road transportation witnessed traction with a gradual increase in the availability of trucks and an increase in the supply of labourers, leading to a decline railway market share which had increased in April. The market share of the road stood at 80 per cent during August. E-way bill collection at 49 million in August is gradually returning to normalcy. It stood at 86 per cent of the pre-COVID levels and remains 3 per cent y-o-y lower.

Diesel consumption too witnessed an increase with a gradual pick-up in the business activities post lockdown. However, diesel consumption witnessed a m-o-m decline of 15 per cent and 12 per cent during July and August compared to the m-o-m decline of 11 per cent in July and August 2019.

While average freight rates witnessed a negligible increase, the impact of higher diesel prices is likely to weigh on profitability. Diesel prices though declined by about 10 per cent m-o-m in August.

With GDP forecasts being revised further downwards, the recovery in corporate travel could be slower than Ind-Ra’s initial expectations and could remain under pressure even in 1H FY22. Passenger traffic nearly remained nil in April and June due to the nationwide lockdown and travel restrictions.

Few domestic carriers started operations in May and June. However, said Ind-Ra, the current passenger load factor at 59 to 76 per cent may not be truly representative of the actual recovery as a large number of aircraft are still grounded.

Freight traffic in July stood at around 65 per cent of normal air freight volumes, impacted by overall weakness in economic activity, lack of manpower, and significant erosion in overall available belly-load freight capacity with many passenger aircraft grounded. (ANI)

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