Two months after they were grounded, 532 domestic flights crisscrossed the Indian skies Monday — the first day of resumption of air services.
Demand for non-metro routes is significantly higher than metro routes, with the Delhi-Patna route witnessing the highest number of bookings for the travel period between May 25 and May 31, according to information sourced from online travel agencies. The booking pattern is reflective of a trend which suggests bulk of the demand comprises those going to visit their homes or travelling for health-related procedures.
“From no domestic passenger flights till yesterday to 532 flights & 39,231 passengers today, action has returned to Indian skies. With Andhra Pradesh set to resume operations from tomorrow & West Bengal from 28 May, these numbers are all set to increase further,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a tweet.
From no domestic passenger flights yesterday to 532 flights &
39,231 passengers today, action has returned to Indian skies.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 25, 2020
The Delhi-Patna route is highest demand, Delhi-Patna most bookings followed by sectors such as Delhi-Bagdogra, Mumbai-Varanasi, Bengaluru-Patna, Delhi-Srinagar, etc.
Prior to the grounding of flights announced by the government with effect from March 25, around 2,700 domestic flights operated in the country on a normal day. According to the standard operating procedures issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, only a third of those flights can operate now.
However, curtailment of the truncated schedule following requests by state governments led to cancellation of several flights at airports throughout the country. At Delhi Airport, the country’s largest aerodrome, more than 80 flights were cancelled.
At Mumbai airport, 47 flights were operated catering to a total of 4,852 passengers, which include 3,752 passengers at departures and 1,100 at arrivals.
The first flight to take-off from Delhi was IndiGo’s service to Pune, which departed at 5 am. Those who took the first flight out of the capital included paramilitary and army personnel, students and migrants.
In a statement, IndiGo said, “IndiGo plans on flying more than 200 daily flights until May 31, 2020… IndiGo operations ran smoothly and as of today afternoon, 85% of our flights have reached their final destination within 30 minutes of scheduled arrival time. There were no major delays or any other disruptions.”
IndiGo said it flew about 20,000 passengers on Monday.
Online travel agency Paytm Travel said due to three consecutive lockdowns, several travellers had to stay back in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, and were now flying back to non-metro cities including Patna, Jaipur, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Guwahati, among others.
“There is a pent-up demand for non-metro destinations from metro cities. Eager flyers are booking tickets to go back home. This has led to a jump in searches and ticket bookings on our platform. While there is a surge in demand, we think it will taper down with time,” said Abhishek Rajan, Senior Vice President, Paytm Travel.
Paytm witnessed flight search volume on its portal jump to around 200 per cent of its average daily search volume. Just over the weekend, the agency saw 85 lakh searches for flights.
Budget carrier SpiceJet said sectors it operated on the first day included New Delhi-Bengaluru, New Delhi-Pune, New Delhi-Chennai, New Delhi-Mumbai, New Delhi-Guwahati, Ahmedabad- New Delhi, New Delhi–Patna, Mumbai–Bengaluru, Chennai–Bengaluru, Varanasi–Jaipur, Bengaluru–Pune, Delhi–Srinagar, Udaipur–Ahmedabad, Jammu–Srinagar, Chennai–Madurai, Hyderabad–Jharsuguda and Hyderabad-Surat.
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