Mumbai: The passenger traffic on domestic airlines touched its highest levels in the first fortnight of October this year, up 19 per cent compared to the same period in September 2021. The data captures the sharp drop in numbers in May and June due to the impact of the second wave of Covid-19.
The October numbers are expected to soar higher from Monday when domestic airlines would be free from any capacity restrictions, the first time since March 2020 lockdown. Earlier this week, the Ministry of Civil Aviation allowed domestic airlines to increase their capacity from 85 per cent to 100 per cent from October 18. With restrictions gone, more flights and passengers are expected to take to the skies.
“Last Diwali, people could not travel due to the pandemic. After the deadly second wave, with increased vaccination, relaxed rules and increased connectivity, people are travelling again, leading to increased passenger numbers,” says Ameya Joshi, the founder of the aviation analysis website Network Thoughts. The festive rush saw several airports, including the Mumbai international airport, struggle to cope with the increased footfall, leading to longer queues, crowds, and chaos.
However, the domestic passenger traffic is nowhere near the 1.23 crore per month passenger traffic generated in the pre-pandemic month of February 2020. In March 2020, when India went into a nationwide lockdown, the domestic passenger traffic dropped to 77.62 lakh.