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Festive demand push: Domestic air traffic count nears pre-Covid levels

Recently, the ministry allowed airlines to operate 100% of their scheduled capacity keeping in mind the growing demand for air travel on account of the onset of festivals season.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
Updated: October 19, 2021 7:49:22 am
For Diwali, which will occur in the first week of November, forward bookings are 450 per cent higher than last year’s Diwali.

With 3,27,923 passengers travelling on domestic flights, Sunday recorded the highest domestic air traffic count since flights were resumed in May 2020, inching towards pre-pandemic levels. According to data from the civil aviation ministry, 2,372 flights operated on Sunday on domestic sectors.

Recently, the ministry allowed airlines to operate 100% of their scheduled capacity keeping in mind the growing demand for air travel on account of the onset of festivals season. For Diwali, which will occur in the first week of November, forward bookings are 450% higher than last year’s Diwali.

“Owing to the constructive policies of the government, domestic air traffic has seen the highest level, post the onset of the pandemic!The civil aviation sector in India thrives amidst unprecedented challenges, whilst we make every effort to return to normalcy as early as possible,” Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said in a tweet.

Prior to Sunday, the highest post-Covid daily passenger traffic was witnessed in February just ahead of the second surge hitting India.

Ameya Joshi of aviation analysis portal NetworkThoughts said: “The lowest load factor yesterday (Sunday) was 84.3% by AirAsia India. SpiceJet crossed 90% load factor yesterday. Having such load factors system wide is a sign of moving towards recovery”.

On October 10, domestic passenger numbers clocked at 3.04 lakh crossing the 3 lakh per day mark for the first time since February 28 this year, when 3.14 lakh passengers had traveled on domestic flights. Considering the rising demand, the two biggest airports in the country — Delhi and Mumbai — had announced the reopening of terminals that were closed on account of low footfall earlier. Delhi Airport announced that operations at Terminal 1 would resume from October 31, almost 18 months after closure, with IndiGo and SpiceJet. Mumbai Airport, which witnessed chaos and flight delays earlier this month on account of sudden increase in traffic, preponed the resumption of its Terminal 1 to October 13 from the earlier date of October 20.

For the month of September, airlines carried 70.66 lakh passengers on domestic routes, according to passenger traffic data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Monday. This figure had fallen to 21.15 lakh in May this year, after which it grew to 31.13 lakh in June, 50.07 lakh in July, and 67.01 lakh in August.

“With a growth in leisure travel, we are expecting a huge uptick in demand for the coming months, and is expected to peak during Diwali and Christmas holidays. We have seen a jump of around 450% in advance bookings for the Diwali week when compared to last year. This indicates a trend where people are utilizing the festive season to travel and spend quality time with their loved ones. The rise in travel during the festive season will further be bolstered by the removal of restrictions in domestic air travel capacity, which is likely to continue the revival of the sector,” Nishant Pitti, CEO of online travel agency EaseMyTrip said.

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