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NEW DELHI : Domestic air passenger traffic saw a 5.45% growth last month with the easing of lockdown curbs following the decline in covid cases that gave confidence to more people to travel by air.

Around 7.07 million passengers took to the skies in September, compared to 6.7 million in August, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

However, the September figure was less than the 7.82 million passengers who took to the air in March.

Domestic airlines recorded a steep fall in passenger traffic with the onset of the second covid wave before witnessing a recovery in June.

The passenger load factor (PLF) of major scheduled commercial airlines was at 63-78.8% in September, compared to 60.3-79.6% in August. PLF measures the capacity utilization of transport services, including airlines.

IndiGo ferried 3.97 million passengers to report a 56.2% market share and 73.6% PLF in September. Air India carried 0.85 million passengers, with a domestic PLF of 63.7 and a market share of 12.1%.

SpiceJet carried 0.60 million passengers during the month, registering a 78.8% PLF and 8.5% market share, while GoFirst (formerly GoAir) catered to 0.58 million passengers, recording a 8.2% market share and 74.1% PLF.

Vistara and AirAsia India ferried 0.61 million and 0.41 million passengers, respectively, during September. Vistara’s PLF was 72.4%, while its market share was 8.7%.

AirAsia India, whose PLF stood at 68%, recorded a market share of 5.8% during the month.

Indian airlines were allowed to operate up to 85% of their pre-covid capacity in September. Domestic carriers will be able to operate their full pre-covid capacity from 18 October, the ministry of civil aviation said last week. 

Meanwhile, the average number of daily fliers rose to 280,000 during the week ending on 16 October, from 262,000 average daily fliers a week before, broking firm ICICI Securities said on Monday.

The average number of departures increased to 2,340 during the week from 2,225 in the previous week, while the number of fliers per departure improved marginally to 120 from 118 a week ago. “Overall PLF has remained healthy with gradual improvement (during the week ending on 16 October)," the report added.

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