Ajay Singh, CEO of SpiceJet, said at the India Today Conclave that when Covid hit and the aviation sector shut overnight due to the lockdown, they had to think of new ways to earn revenue and pay salaries. The problem with aviation is that we have planes that we have taken on lease and we have to keep paying for them. We had 12,000 employees. When you are told to shut down everything you have got, how does one pay for it? He said we had salaries to pay.
Singh said they began flying cargo. We first put cargo on the seats. We took seats from a large number of planes and started flying stuff for Covid initially. The government of India needed medicines and equipment from places like China. He spoke about how they flew a PPE suit from Shanghai to Coimbatore, where it was replicated. We didn't know what a PPE suit was in this country. The government asked us if we could fly down a plane to Shanghai, get a PPE suit and then fly it to Coimbatore where it was going to be replicated. One aircraft flew just that one PPE suit. There was nothing else in the plane except the PPE suit. They were approached by shrimp farmers. We told them we had never transported shrimp eggs, but we figured out a way to do it. Singh said there were just so many commodities that had to go from one place to another.
SpiceJet then took some wide body aircrafts and started flying commodities to the Middle East.
Our thought process was that we have what are the opportunities that we can find in this horrible adversity. The new business helped us keep going and we could pay salaries. Singh said we didn't sack anyone.