Domestic air traffic nosedived to 19.20 lakh passengers in May 2021 from around 57.3 lakh in April, registering a sharp 65 to 67 per cent month-on-month contraction on account of the second wave of the pandemic. With such a sharp fall, the domestic passenger traffic reached lower than the June-July 2020 levels. At the same time, the airlines’ capacity deployment for May 2021 was lower by around 55 per cent with 27,700 departures as compared to 60,300 departures in April this year, indicating the lower demand stemming from averseness of consumers to travel due to the rise in infections.
For May 2021, the average daily departures were around 900, significantly lower than around 2,000 in April 2021. The average number of passengers per flight in May 2021 was 72, against an average of 93 per flight in April 2021, said Kinjal Shah, Vice President and Co-Group Head at ICRA. “The gradual decline depicts the continuing stress on demand, driven largely by the second wave of COVID-19, limiting travel to only when necessary, while both leisure and business travel have been curtailed due to various state-wide restrictions and the spread of the infections,” she noted. The international passenger traffic, which is being carried out under Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) and air bubble pacts with various countries in the absence of regular commercial international flight services since late March last year, stood at around 1.4 lakh, a sequential decline of around 96 per cent, the report said. This was due to the cancellation of flights to/from India by several countries such as the US, the UK, Singapore, Kuwait, France, Canada, Australia, Iran, Indonesia and the UAE, which had air bubble pact or are under the VBM, citing the increasing coronavirus cases, it added. The international operations through VBM or the ATB route were the only source of revenue for airlines and the cancellation of flights by the destination countries will further impact the beleaguered domestic carriers, the agency noted.