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New Delhi: Domestic air passenger traffic growth is likely to contract 15-17% in April as the spike in covid-19 infections and fresh restrictions imposed by states are set to delay recovery in travel demand, rating agency Icra said in a report on Wednesday.

"Post resumption of airport operations from 25 May 2020, the ramp up in domestic passenger traffic had been steadily reaching 64% of previous year levels in February 2021. Considering a similar trend, domestic traffic was expected to grow at 125% in FY2022 after an estimated de-growth of 61% in FY2021," it said.

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However, the spike in covid-19 cases towards March end and early April has resulted in several state governments implementing fresh restrictions, it added.

While passengers are apprehensive about air travel, mandating negative covid-19 test reports for travel and imposing mandatory home quarantine measures are expected to adversely impact passenger traffic in April.

The fresh restrictions will also have an adverse bearing on airport operators' cash flows and debt coverage metrics.

“The average daily number of departing passengers during March 2021 stood at 2.49 lakh. During April 6, 2021 to April 11, 2021 there has been a dip of 11%-12% in domestic passenger traffic as compared to the average of March 2021," said Shubham Jain, Senior Vice President, Corporate Ratings, ICRA.

"With the rising cases and the fresh restrictions imposed in many states till April 30, 2021, the air travel is likely to be curtailed to an extent and the domestic passenger traffic is expected to be lower by 15%-17% M-o-M in April 2021," Jain added.

According to data collated by independent aviation analyst Ameya Joshi, founder of aviation website NetworkThoughts, domestic air passenger numbers have dropped below 2-lakh mark daily on 13 April for the first time after 145 days. The total number of domestic passengers who flew on 13 April stood at 183,331.

According to the latest data available from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India's domestic air traffic remained flat in February as compared to the previous month. As many as 7.83 million passengers travelled by air in February, up from 7.73 million in January, data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) published on Wednesday showed. However, this is still 36.71% below the numbers of February 2020.

DGCA is yet to release domestic air traffic data for March.

Meanwhile, as many as 1,84,372 more people tested positive for covid-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative caseload to over 1.38 crore, according to data from the Union health ministry.er

With over 1,000 deaths in the last 24 hours, this has been the highest daily death count in nearly six months.

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