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NEW DELHI : Airline bookings battered by the second wave of covid-19 are slowly picking up, as fliers regain confidence and falling infections prompt states to relax restrictions.

Online and physical travel agents have seen higher bookings in June, after 10 weeks of falling average daily air passengers through April and May. Online travel portal EaseMyTrip saw three times as many bookings in June as compared to May, chief executive Nishant Pitti said.

Broking firm ICICI Securities said in a report that the average number of daily fliers rose to 83,000 during the week ended 12 June from 75,000 a week before, the first increase in 10 weeks. These numbers had remained flat during the week ending on 5 June, as compared to the previous week.

“There are initial signs of recovery with reduced caseloads and relaxation of curbs by several states. Traffic and booking volumes have almost doubled from a couple of weeks back," said Rajiv Subramanian, vice-president at online travel website Cleartrip.

“The share of round trips and advance bookings has also seen an uptick. Both these metrics have been good lead indicators of consumer confidence in the past 12 months or so. This recovery should continue with more cities seeing reduced caseloads and accelerated vaccination," he added.

EaseMyTrip’s June bookings were several times more than in May, Pitti noted.

According to data collated by aviation analyst Ameya Joshi, founder of NetworkThoughts, the number of domestic air passengers in the first two weeks of June stood at 1,163,669, up from 1,093,644 in the same period in May.

Data from the aviation analusis website shows 3,207,724 people flew in the first fortnight of April, 3,557,150 during the first fortnight of March, and 3,680,552 during the same period in February.

Air passenger traffic has picked up in June, but whether this can be sustained will depend on the vaccination drive, a top executive at a Gurugram-based airline said on condition of anonymity. “The situation is fragile and passenger growth will be dependent on the virus. Aviation sector and the economy as a whole will see sustainable growth pick up only when a substantial part of the population is fully vaccinated," the executive added.

Domestic air traffic in FY22 is expected to be lower than pre-pandemic levels and may fully recover by the fourth quarter of FY23 because the second covid wave has resulted in revenue losses of about 900 crore for the aviation sector, rating agency Crisil said in a report last week.

India’s largest domestic airline, InterGlobe Aviation Ltd-operated IndiGo, however, expects a likely third wave of covid-19 to remain flat if the government is successful with its vaccination targets.

The airline expects passenger traffic to revive domestically by the end of 2021 and internationally by mid-2022, its management recently informed analysts in a post-results call.

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