India's domestic air traffic fell 37 per cent year-on-year to 78 lakh passengers in February amid travel curbs and capacity restrictions due to the pandemic, according to Icra.
Even the sequential growth slowed down for the second consecutive month in February with a nearly flat growth over January 2021, rating firm Icra said in a release.
Domestic passenger traffic in January this year was recorded at 77.34 lakh, according to DGCA data.
Similarly, 1.23 crore people travelled on local routes in February 2020 as against 78 lakh passenger in February this year.
"The number of flights departing has also gradually increased from 416 on day one (May 25, 2020, when domestic operations were resumed) to 2,885 on day 267 (February 14, 2021).
"For February 2021, the average daily departures were around 2,296, significantly lower than the average daily departures of 3,137 in February 2020, though better than around 2,190 in January 2021," said Kinjal Shah, Vice President, Icra.
The average number of passengers per flight during February 2021 was 121, against an average of 136 passengers per flight in February 2020, she said, therefore, it is expected that the domestic aviation industry operated at a passenger load factor (PLF) of around 78 per cent in February 2021, against 87.7 per cent a year ago, that too on a low capacity.
The PLF for February 2021 was higher than around 73 per cent in January 2021, due to the decline in capacity deployment by around 5 per cent, she added.
Overall, from May 25, 2020, till February 28, 2021, domestic passenger traffic has been pegged at around 45.6 million, said Shah.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has allowed the Indian airlines to gradually increase capacity from about 33 per cent in May 2020 (at the time of resumption of operations) to 80 per cent at present.