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New Delhi: Average daily domestic air passenger traffic fell sharply for the third week in a row in the seven days ended 22 January amid the third wave of coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The average number of daily flyers declined to 168,000 last week down from 192,000 in the week ended 15 January, brokerage firm ICICI Securities said in a report on Monday.

The average number of daily flyers stood at 288,000 during the week ended 8 January.

Meanwhile, the average number of daily departures during last week fell to 1,787 from 2,101 during the above-mentioned period, the report said.

In comparison, the total number of passengers arriving at domestic airport stood at 179,343, while the total number of domestic flight departures stood at 1,798, on 23 January, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

Domestic air passenger traffic had seen significant growth since June, with the easing of lockdown restrictions following a steady decline in fresh covid-19 cases, giving more people the confidence to undertake travel.

However, the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus mutant and a subsequent third wave of covid-19 pandemic in the country and in different parts of the world threatens to derail this recovery.

The decline in demand has seen airlines cut capacity, with domestic market leaders IndiGo trimming their flights by 20%.

The ongoing third wave of the covid-19 pandemic could lead to fresh turbulence for air traffic, delaying the domestic aviation industry's recovery to FY24 from FY23, Crisil Ratings Limited said in a report last week.

"This spill-over impact is likely to delay recovery of air traffic from our earlier expectation of it happening in fiscal 2023. However, recovery is expected to be achieved within early part of fiscal 2024," the report said.

"This is because air traffic is likely to rebound faster this time around, compared with the second wave, when it took from May to November 2021 to recover from about 16% to 85% of the fiscal 2020 traffic," it added.

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