India saw highest post-pandemic domestic air traffic on Oct 17: Aviation Minister

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#air passenger traffic, #airlines, #Covid-19, #DGCA. MoCA, #pandemic

Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Daily domestic air passenger traffic in India touched the highest ever mark on October 17 since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said in a tweet on Monday.

A total of 3,27,923 passengers travelled on 2,372 flights within India on Sunday, as the threat of COVID-19 eases in the country and passengers start travelling given the festive season.

Scindia said that constructive policies of the central government have helped lift the daily domestic air passenger traffic in the country.

The domestic air traffic on October 17 was around 76 percent of the pre-COVID level while the domestic flight departures on the same day were around 81 percent of the pre-COVID level.

Before the pandemic struck, India’s daily domestic air traffic was approximately 4,25,000 passengers.

Earlier this month, daily domestic air passenger traffic in India crossed the 300,000-mark on October 9 for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rise in daily domestic air traffic comes just a week after the government announced that domestic airlines will be allowed to operate at full capacity from October 18.

Capacity caps translate to the number of flights or departures that an airline can order as a percentage of a schedule during a season.

The government had in April 2020, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, imposed restrictions on capacity utilisation and fare bands for domestic airlines to operate in, in order to avoid monopolisation in the market and to avoid the spread of the virus.

The government’s capacity caps on the airline sector have been in place for nearly 17 months now, as they were first imposed in May 2020, following the outbreak of COVID-19.

The fare bands and capacity utilisation is regularly tweaked by the government as the threat of COVID-19 eases. The government had cut capacity utilisation in May 2021.

Industry executives credit the rise in domestic air passenger traffic to the government delaying in announcing a fare band, which allowed airlines to offer tickets at a cheaper rate than the government prescribed fare band.

This, analysts say, gives airlines enough time to sell tickets at prices that are at least 30-40 percent lower than what was mandated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, beyond the dates of the set fare bands.

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