Low-cost carriers to be hit by safety drill

New Delhi, August 13 :

Low-cost carriers worldwide could be hit by the latest set of restrictions related to hand baggage in flights imposed by several countries in the wake of the terror plot foiled in London.

According to an assessment carried out by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), “Stricter controls on hand baggage could be bad news for the evolution of the low-cost carrier (LCC) model at a time when they were beginning to charge passengers for checked baggage, in order to encourage them to carry more in the cabin. LCCs, at least in Europe, like Ryanair, may be worse affected, perhaps in the long term too.”

CAPA, a leading think tank in the aviation sector, also indicated that there might be some short-term cancellations in the wake of the foiled terror plot to blow up 10 US-bound planes midair, though overall demand in the sector is likely to remain resilient.

“In countries like India, people have taken this latest terror threat in their stride. There doesn’t seem to be any long term impact on the travel industry,” Keyur Joshi, chief operating officer of online travel portal makemytrip.com, said. Meanwhile, within Europe and on flights to and from Europe and the US, short-term cancellations could prompt airlines in the short to medium run to offer more discounts to keep load factors up, the CAPA forecast revealed.

The think tank also cautioned that “although the threat appears to be very specific to the US and Britain, especially to the US airlines, the same logic and methodology is applicable to all air services. So we can expect that there will be lasting effects on airport security worldwide and changes in carry-on baggage rules.”

In the past, the focus has been on screening for weapons and similar implements. The problem, however, has been elevated to another level now, where a combination of substances can become life threatening.

“The main ingredient is a liquid chemical, as well as components which can be well disguised in a laptop, MP3 music player or camera,” the CAPA report stated.