Friday, January 15, 2021

Domestic air travellers drop by over half in 2020 over 2019

New Delhi: Covid has pushed back India’s domestic aviation by almost seven years. The pandemic 2020 saw 6.3 crore domestic air passengers, a sharp 56.3% less than 14.4 crore in 2019, according to DGCA data. Such numbers were last seen in 2013 and 2014 with 6.1 crore and 6.7 crore domestic flyers, respectively.

Scheduled domestic flights were suspended from March 25 to May 25, 2020, as part of the lockdown. So the 6.3 crore people flew within the country in the remaining 10 months with over half (3.3 crore) doing so in January-March and just over 3 crore in May-December period (April saw no scheduled domestic flights).

The impact on international air travel will be more severe and longer-lasting as regular flights remain suspended since last March and special arrangement operations to and from some countries are happening under air bubbles and Vande Bharat Mission. Rating agency ICRA expects FY2021 international passenger traffic for Indian carriers to witness a YoY decline of 88-89%.

Scheduled domestic passenger graph followed a U-shaped trajectory last year. Travel restrictions began kicking in March onwards. The January-March quarter saw 3.3 crore domestic passengers. April saw no scheduled domestic flights and the same were allowed to resume partially from May 25. As a result, the April-June period saw 22.6 lakh passengers.

Airlines and airports had put in place Covid protocols and slowly people regained the confidence to take to the skies again, travelling mainly for personal reasons like visiting family and friends or returning home or to city of work. As a result, July-September 88.8 lakh domestic flyers and this number touched almost 1.9 crore in the festive and holiday months of October-December.

IndiGo was the market leader with over half of the domestic market share at 51.7% in calendar year 2020 followed by SpiceJet at 14.9%, Air India at 10.8%, and GoAir at 8.6%. The combined market share of the two Tata JVs — AirAsia India (7%) and Vistara (6.3%) — was 13.3%.

15/01/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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