New Delhi: A total of 28.32 lakh domestic passengers travelled by air in August this year, 76 per cent lower than the corresponding period last year, aviation regulator DGCA said on Wednesday.

While IndiGo carried 16.82 lakh passengers, a 59.4 per cent share of the total domestic market, SpiceJet flew 3.91 lakh passengers, which is 13.8 per cent share of the total market, the DGCA data noted.

These two airlines were followed by Air India, AirAsia India, Vistara and GoAir at 2.78 lakh, 1.92 lakh, 1.42 lakh and 1.33 lakh passengers respectively in August, the data showed.

As many as 21.07 lakh people travelled by air domestically this July, the regulator had said last month.

The occupancy rate or load factor for five out of six major Indian airlines was between 58 and 69 per cent in August, it said Wednesday.

"The passenger load factor in the month of Aug 2020 has shown some recovery due to increased demand after the opening of lockdown," said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The occupancy rate in SpiceJet was 76 per cent in August, the regulator noted.

However, the occupancy rate for other major airlines Vistara, IndiGo, AirAsia India, GoAir and Air India stood at 68.3 per cent, 65.6 per cent, 64.4 per cent, 61 per cent and 58.6 per cent, respectively, according to the DGCA.

India resumed domestic passenger flights on May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Indian airlines are allowed to operate a maximum of 60 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights.

A total of 19.84 lakh passengers travelled domestically in June this year. Between May 25 and May 31, 2.81 lakh air passengers had travelled domestically, the DGCA noted.

The DGCA data mentioned that in August, IndiGo had the best on-time performance of 98.5 per cent at four metro airports - Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

AirAsia India and Vistara were at number two and three at these four airports with 97.6 per cent and 95.9 per cent on-time performance, respectively, the regulator said.

Vistara and Air India cancelled 14.99 per cent and 12.05 per cent of their flights in August, the DGCA mentioned.

The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

All airlines in India have taken cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, leave without pay and firings of employees in order to conserve the cash flow.

 

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Berlin: Scientists have identified highly effective antibodies against the novel coronavirus, which they say can lead to the development of a passive vaccination for COVID-19.

Unlike in active vaccination, passive vaccination involves the administration of ready-made antibodies, which are degraded after some time.

However, the effect of a passive vaccination is almost immediate, whereas with an active vaccination it has to build up first, the researchers said.

The research, published in the journal Cell, also shows that some SARS-CoV-2 antibodies bind to tissue samples from various organs, which could potentially trigger undesired side effects.

The scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and Charite - Universitatsmedizin Berlin isolated almost 600 different antibodies from the blood of individuals who had overcome COVID-19, the disease triggered by SARS-CoV-2.

By means of laboratory tests, they were able to narrow this number down to a few antibodies that were particularly effective at binding to the virus.

The researchers then produced these antibodies artificially using cell cultures.

The so-called neutralising antibodies bind to the virus, as crystallographic analysis reveals, and thus prevent the pathogen from entering cells and reproducing, they said.

In addition, virus recognition by antibodies helps immune cells to eliminate the pathogen. Studies in hamsters -- which, like humans, are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 -- confirmed the high efficacy of the selected antibodies.

If the antibodies were given after an infection, the hamsters developed mild disease symptoms at most. If the antibodies were applied preventively -- before infection -- the animals did not get sick, said Jakob Kreye, coordinator of the research project.

The researchers noted that treating infectious diseases with antibodies has a long history.

For COVID-19, this approach is also being investigated through the administration of plasma derived from the blood of recovered patients. With the plasma, antibodies of donors are transferred, they said.

"Ideally, the most effective antibody is produced in a controlled manner on an industrial scale and in constant quality. This is the goal we are pursuing," said Momsen Reincke, first author of the research.

Three of our antibodies are particularly promising for clinical development, explained Harald Pruss, a research group leader at the DZNE and also a senior physician at Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin.

"Using these antibodies, we have started to develop a passive vaccination against SARS-CoV-2," Pruss said.

In addition to the treatment of patients, preventive protection of healthy individuals who have had contact with infected persons is also a potential application, the researchers said.

How long the protection lasts will have to be investigated in clinical studies, they said.

This is because, unlike in active vaccination, passive vaccination involves the administration of ready-made antibodies, which are degraded after some time, Pruss said. In general, the protection provided by a passive vaccination is less persistent than that provided by an active vaccination, the researchers said.

However, the effect of a passive vaccination is almost immediate, whereas with an active vaccination it has to build up first, they said.

It would be best if both options were available so that a flexible response could be made depending on the situation, Pruss added.