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NEW DELHI : Domestic air passenger traffic rose about 67% year-on-year and 24% sequentially to about 8.8 million passengers in October following a revival in travel sentiment during the festival season and a steady fall in freshcovid-19 cases, credit rating agency Icra said on Tuesday.

Capacity deployed by airlines during October was 46% higher on year, with 72,000 departures registered last month compared with 49,150 departures in the year-ago period, said Icra, adding that sequentially departures in October rose about 18%.

Domestic air passenger traffic had grown 5.45% in September, with around 7.07 million passengers taking to the skies during the month compared to 6.7 million in August, according to latest data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“For October 2021, the average daily departures were at about 2,400, significantly higher than the average daily departures of 1,585 in October 2020, and higher than about 2,100 in September 2021. The average number of passengers per flight during October 2021 was 122, against an average of 117 passengers per flight in September 2021," said Suprio Banerjee, Vice president and sector head, at Icra.

"Though the recovery continued in October 2021, demand continues to be subdued from the corporate traveller segment as reflected by passenger traffic being lower by abut 28% in October 2021 compared to pre-Covid levels," Banerjee added.

As things stand, scheduled Indian airlines were allowed to operate up to 100% of their pre-covid capacity on domestic flights from 18 October, which means airlines have an opportunity to shore up their capacity during the ongoing festival season.

Meanwhile, the average number of daily fliers rose to 291,000 in the week ended 6 November from 288,000 a week before, broking firm ICICI Securities said in a report.

Average number of departures increased during the week under review to 2,593 from 2,356 in the previous week, while number of fliers per departure declined to 112 from 122 a week ago.

Interestingly, 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 to confidence to undertake travel.

Icra, however, said rising prices of aviation fuel, due to firming up of global crude oil demand, is a major ​concern for airlines.

Aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices have risen a sharp 94.4% year-on-year as of November, primarily led by an increase in crude oil prices, Icra said.

"This, coupled with relatively low-capacity utilisation of aircraft fleet, will continue to weigh on financial performance of Indian carriers in FY2022. Furthermore, the credit profile of most Indian carriers continues to be characterised by a weak liquidity position," it added.

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