19 lakh domestic flyers in first month of schedule flights resumption

NEW DELHI: The first month of domestic flight resumption has seen almost 19 lakh people flying within the country. Schedule domestic flights were suspended on March 25 and allowed to resume gradually from May 25.
In a tweet, aviation minister H S Puri said that from May 25 to June 25 18.9 lakh passengers travelled on about 21,300 flights. This translates into an average of about 90 passengers on a domestic flight.

Domestic flights had resumed at one-third of the original summer schedule level and will be gradually ramped up as demand increases and travel restrictions — flight handling at many airports has been capped by state governments and different quarantine requirements in different states — ease. Calendar years 2018 and 2019 had seen over a crore domestic flyers every month.
Minister Puri had recently said India used to have 3-3.5 lakh domestic passengers daily in pre-pandemic times. “We started with 30,000 passengers on May 25 and since then have seen a maximum of 72,000 domestic passengers on a day. I expect to reach half of the pre-corona level of 1.5-1.6 lakh domestic travellers before mid July,” he had recently.
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Delhi airport, which remains the busiest Indian airport, says it saw about 30,000 domestic passengers daily after schedule flights were allowed which means about 9 lakh domestic flyers during the month. “Of them, one-third are travelling for visiting friends and relatives (VFR) and one-fourth are business travellers. Only 30-35% are those who had got stranded and were going back,” said Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO of Delhi International Airport Ltd at a Boeing co-hosted webinar Thursday on restoring confidence in air travel.
The second busiest airport, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), says it has seen just over 2 lakh domestic passengers in the one month post resumption of schedule flights. CSMIA currently has a cap on number of domestic flights — 50 arrivals and as many departures — it can handle due to the pandemic. “Amongst the destinations served, the airport saw the highest passenger load capacity on Mumbai – Delhi route, followed closely by Kolkata, Varanasi, and Patna, respectively,” Mumbai Airport said in a statement.
Aviation ministry JS Usha Padhee said at the webinar: “We continue to rigorously follow recommendations and measures by our industry, international council, health and safety organisations and other stakeholders to restore confidence in air travel for our people in India. Collaborative approach between all stakeholders is the way to restore the confidence to bring air travel back.”
Salil Gupte, president, Boeing India said at Thursday’s webinar: “We are partnering with airlines, ministry of civil aviation, DGCA and the industry to create a multi-layered approach focused on keeping passengers and airline crews healthy. Layered protection requires a system-wide approach extending beyond the airplane to the full travel experience. Having consistent, industry-recognised safety standards and protocols will be an important part of recovery as travel resumes.”
Pratt & Whitney (India) president and country head Ashmita Sethi said: As air travel recovers from the Covid-19 impact, innovation and coordination between the industry and government will be key to restoring passenger confidence. PW has been supporting its customers in India to meet the demands of the world’s fastest growing aviation market. In fact, even during the recent pause in air travel due to the extended lockdown, we have continued to work closely with our airline customers – bringing in special charters to upgrade fleets, improving quick-turn MRO capabilities and reducing turn-around times – thereby ensuring that airlines are ready for a well-supported return to demand.”
Delhi Airport had been seeing seen 18% first time flyers and its passenger numbers were growing at 15-16% in last five years by increasing the base of flyers. “So most of the growth was driven by new flyers who were switching over to flying from other modes of travel. Flying remains the safest mode of travel. All steps have been taken to ensure that,” the Delhi Airport CEO said.

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