Friday, January 01, 2021

Year ends with a 1-million high for Kolkata airport

Kolkata: Despite the pandemic and the panic over the new UK strain arriving via direct UK flights forcing the cancellation of the Air India Heathrow-Kolkata service, the airport has clocked over 10 lakh passenger movements this December, the highest in the past 10 months.

Despite the multiple challenges it encountered in between, the ramp up to the million mark has been steady except for the minor bump in July and August when a series of local lockdowns meant there were no passenger movement through the airport on those days. Since September though, passenger figures have been on the rise.

"From just a handful repatriation flights for foreigners that operated in April and 13,205 passengers that travelled in the limited operations in the last few days of May, the airport has bounced back and clocked nearly 44 lakh travellers since flight services resumed. Barring any hiccups, the airport should be clocking 10 lakh-plus passengers every month." an airport official said.

Flights were still shut when the Amphan cyclone barreled through Kolkata, leaving behind a trail of destruction. The airport terminal managed to avoid any major damage but two old hangars to the east of the airport were flattened. While domestic flights resumed in the rest of the country on May 22, Kolkata limped back to the flight map on May 28 with the state government permitting only 10 flights to operate in a day.

When the state-imposed restrictions were lifted the following month, flight count zoomed to 3.8 lakh. But with Covid cases on the rise, the state government re-imposed lockdowns. With no passenger flights allowed to operate on lockdown days in July and August and flights banned from six high traffic cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Pune and Nagpur — passenger count slumped to 2.7 lakh in July and inched up to 3.3 lakh in August.

The withdrawal of lockdowns and partial lifting of the six city curbs (flights were allowed from these cities three days-a-week), passenger count increased to 6.2 lakh in September. With some international flights also being allowed to operate from the next month, October recorded 8.3 lakh passenger movements.

01/01/21 Times of India

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