Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Mumbai airport reports significant increase in international passengers

On December 23, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) in Mumbai released figures on international passenger movement from May through November 2020. "While CSMIA catered to over 10,300 passengers across 1,060 flights in May 2020, the airport witnessed the movement of over 1,44,400 passengers across over 2,300 ATMs in November 2020," stated a press note.

Given fears and apprehensions around a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, which researchers believe began manifesting in southern England as early as September, the international passenger numbers from CSMIA should be taken more seriously. Especially since increased air traffic between two major financial capitals, London and Mumbai, is unavoidable even in one of the leanest years in aviation history.

During the period of May-November 2020, CSMIA has registered Dubai, London-Heathrow, Newark, Doha, and Abu Dhabi as the top 5 destinations for passengers flying from Mumbai. Among these, Dubai emerged as the route with the highest passenger traffic catering to over 2,67,600 passengers; followed by London-Heathrow at over 89,800 passengers, Newark with 80,800 passengers, Doha with 58,200 passengers and Abu Dhabi with 39,400 passengers approximately. Air India was registered as the top airlines catering to London-Heathrow and Newark with a total of over 89,800 and 80,800 passengers respectively. These numbers include repatriation as well as Vande Bharat flights from air bubble agreements

Although CSMIA has numerous preventive SOPs in place, including mandatory RT-PCR checks for arriving and departing international fliers, detecting the passage of the new variant to India from UK returnees who may have tested positive since October is now hard to determine. Since Tuesday night, the government has banned all flights from the UK and people who travelled or transited from the UK in the past 14 days are to declare their travel history, as norms for testing and tracing arrivals from Britain from November 25 now kick in.

23/12/20 Sneha Bhura/The Week

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