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Business News/ Economy / Air passenger traffic surpasses pre-covid record
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Air passenger traffic surpasses pre-covid record

Indian airlines carried around 13.2 million passengers in May, surpassing the previous record of 13.02 million set in December 2019

Domestic air traffic in May is also 15% higher than the year-ago period and has risen more than 2% since April.Premium
Domestic air traffic in May is also 15% higher than the year-ago period and has risen more than 2% since April.

NEW DELHI : Domestic air traffic rose to a record in May as demand for air travel in India soared despite the grounding of the Go First airline and high airfares, government data showed.

Indian airlines carried around 13.2 million passengers in May, surpassing the previous record of 13.02 million set in December 2019. Domestic air traffic in May is also 15% higher than the year-ago period and has risen more than 2% since April.

While air traffic has created a new high and beaten the pre-pandemic levels of demand, the number of flights has still not beaten the pre-pandemic average daily flight count of 2,900 departures. In fact, the grounding of the low-fare airline on 3 May further impacted the deployment of flights in the country. Go First carried about 7% of total domestic passengers till April. The daily flight departures declined from 2,936 on 1 May to 2,824 flights on 31 May, with an average daily departure count of over 2,800 flights.

Domestic airlines transported nearly 13.2 million passengers on over 87,000 flights in May
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Domestic airlines transported nearly 13.2 million passengers on over 87,000 flights in May

Domestic airlines transported 12.89 million passengers in April on more than 88,700 flights, while the traffic carried on over 87,000 flight departures in May stood at nearly 13.2 million passengers. This showed that the aircraft capacity utilization in May was higher than in April.

“May and June are the typical holiday season and tickets get booked in advance. The grounding of Go Air [Go First] led to a temporary supply squeeze while demand has remained robust, and hence the rise in ticket prices did not have much of an impact on traffic," said Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, senior director-consulting, Crisil Ltd.

“The availability of tickets for movement through alternative modes such as railways is limited," he said.

High demand during the month comes despite a significant increase in airfares on domestic routes. Spot airfares on several routes with a strong Go First presence, such as Delhi-Leh, Delhi-Srinagar, and Mumbai-Goa, have seen an uptick, but it has not deterred the travel sentiment. Go First, which used to carry around 30,000 daily passengers with 180-200 daily flights, has voluntarily filed for insolvency in the National Company Law Tribunal.

Air traffic is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in FY24, and the expectation is that monthly traffic will also be higher than the pre-pandemic period for most months during the current fiscal, said Suprio Banerjee, vice-president and sector head of corporate ratings, Icra Ltd.

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Published: 02 Jun 2023, 11:32 PM IST
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