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New Delhi: Average daily domestic air passenger traffic fell sharply in the week ended 15 January, as compared to the previous week, amid the third wave of coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The average number of daily flyers declined to 192,000 last week down from 288,000 in the previous week, brokerage firm ICICI Securities said in a report on Monday.

Meanwhile, the average number of daily departures during last week fell to 2,101 from 2,594 in the week ended 8 January, the report said.

The number of flyers per departure fell to 91 from 111 during the same period.

"Renewed fears of omicron variant has led to sharp decline in daily PAX (passenger) count from 355,000 in Dec’21 to 192,000 in week ending 15th Jan’21," the report added.

In comparison, the total number of arriving domestic passengers stood at 167,542, while the total number of domestic flight arrivals stood at 1,907, on 15 January, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

Domestic air passenger traffic has 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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