Monday, June 15, 2020

Domestic flight operations at city airport may double to 100 soon

Mumbai: Mumbai could see its schedule domestic flights double from 25 arrivals and as many departures daily to 50 each this week.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government of Maharashtra had allowed schedule flights to resume from May 25 at that level, given the spiralling cases of coronavirus in the state. But due to heavy demand for travel to and from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA)—India’s second busiest airport after Delhi’s IGI —NCP, a coalition partner in the MVA government, has sought at least doubling of flights at the earliest.

“I have spoken to the state government. There is a need to enhance flights in and out of Mumbai. There will be a decision on increasing flights very soon,” senior NCP leader Praful Patel told TOI.

Sources say the state government has been requested to allow 100 schedule domestic arrivals and as many departures daily. “In the first step, this number may be raised to 50 each and subsequently to 100 each at CSMIA,” a source said.

Day One of schedule domestic flight resumption on May 25 saw 58,318 domestic passengers on 832 flights at 70 passengers per flight on average flying across India. The number of passengers rose to 71,924 on 715 flights on June 13 (average of 100 passengers per flight), according to tweets of aviation minister H S Puri.

“June so far has been slightly better than last week of May in terms of aircraft occupancy, which rose from 50%-52% to 60%. Chennai is also likely to double its allowed schedule domestic flight capacity. Airlines will add flights. Hopefully, corona spread will be under control and the increased number of flights will see a rising aircraft occupancy,” said a senior airline official.

Given their frail financial health, airlines will have to cut back flights if the increased numbers see planes going less than half full due to corona situation worsening and different states continuing with their quarantine rules.
15/06/20 Sauabh Sinha/Times of India
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