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Home >Budget >Economic Survey >Indian air passenger traffic to reach pre-covid levels by early 2021: Economic Survey

NEW DELHI : The government expects India's air passenger traffic to reach its pre-covid level during early-2021, according to the Economic Survey 2020-21, which was tabled in the Parliament on Friday.

"Air passenger travel and aircraft movements are predicted to reach pre-COVID level in early 2021 as a result of swift and decisive interventions and effective measures put in place by the Government," the survey said.

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"Government has also entered into air-links or air transport bubble arrangements with 23 countries to facilitate the movement of passengers between the respective countries and India," it added.

The survey also stated that the total aircraft fleet strength of Indian airlines is set to increase to 713 by the end of the current fiscal, up from 669 at the end of fiscal year 2020, despite a steep demand in passenger traffic.

All major airlines continue to take delivery of aircraft due to the long term potential of the sector.

During April-December 2020, Indian airports saw 64.83 million passengers, down 75% from the year-ago period, due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, according to data from Airports authority of India. During this period, domestic air traffic dropped 61.4% while international air traffic fell 73.8%.

"Aviation and tourism declined sharply in 2020. Only 2.46 million foreign tourists arrived in India during January-June 2020 as compared to 5.29 million during January-June last year," the survey said.

"Consequently, foreign exchange earnings from tourism declined to US$ 6.16 billion during the first six months of 2020 as compared to US$ 14.19 billion during the corresponding period last year," it added.

The government had suspended domestic passenger flights between 25 March and 24 May 2020 to contain the pandemic. Domestic airline operations were allowed to resume from 25 May. Airlines were allowed to initially operate only 33% of their pre-covid capacity, which has now been increased to 80%.

However, despite the severe challenges posed by Covid-19, the Indian aviation industry has persevered through the crisis and demonstrated long-term resilience and full commitment to serve, the survey said adding that India is expected to become the third largest overall aviation market by the fiscal year 2025.

However, scheduled commercial international flights -- barring cargo flights and those specifically allowed by the civil aviation regulator such as flights under the bilateral air bubble pacts with select countries -- remain suspended at least till 28 February.

India currently has bilateral air bubble agreement countries like Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ukraine, the UAE, UK, and the US.

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