Friday, August 28, 2020

Kolkata: Outbound flyers pip incoming in August

Kolkata: The departures count has outnumbered arrivals at the Kolkata airport in the past three weeks, a clear shift from the trend of more arrivals than departures since flights resumed.

With a significant section of outbound flyers either returning to their old jobs in other states or heading to join new employments, this indicates a step in the road to normality, even as daily Covid counts continue to rise in the country.

Since flight operations began at the airport on May 28, the arrivals count was initially higher that departures, according to figures provided by the airport. In June, 2.3 lakh flyers arrived in Kolkata and 1.5 lakh left. The following month, which had two complete lockdowns, 1.5 lakh passengers flew in and 1.1 lakh passengers flew out. In August, the trend reversed: though overall passenger figures dipped owing to the five lockdown days, 1.5 lakh people have taken flights out of Kolkata against 1.2 lakh who have flown in.

The trend, according to economists, indicates people returning to work and the wheels of the economy beginning to turn after a prolonged shutdown. “This definitely points to a shift towards normality,” economist Kumarjit Mandal told TOI. “Migrant professionals who had returned home are now returning to their workplaces. It also indicates that people have regained confidence and are willing to step out. Of course, that will lead to changes in the pandemic situation. For instance, the situation in Bengaluru has worsened because IT workers have returned to the city from all over. But it is no longer acting as a deterrent for people to carry on with their lives.”

There was a hint that the tide was about to turn when passenger figures for the first week of August were collated at the airport. Suddenly, the inbound passenger figure — at 34,828 — was very close to the outbound figure of 34,364. The momentum towards higher departures shifted decisively from the second week, when, after nearly 10 weeks, more people boarded flights in Kolkata. That week, against 32,990 arrivals, there were 39,814 departures. That trend continued with the arrival of 26,198 people in the third week against 39,149 people departing the city. Even in the fourth week, 24,734 passengers have arrived till now while 33,539 passengers have departed.
28/08/20 Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India

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