Monday, March 08, 2021

Post-Covid air travel from smaller airports takes off

Chennai: It’s 8pm, a live flight tracking site shows the sky is crowded with moving yellow dots over the Indian peninsula. About a year since domestic flights were closed in view of the Covid-19 pandemic on March 25, 2020, the planes are back in large numbers, so are the passengers inside the terminals on the ground.

Coming out of the shadow of pandemic, the smaller airports in Tamil Nadu, that were hit the hardest with reduced flights, are slowly recording an upward trend. With the cases on the decline and vaccinations in full swing, the airlines and the airport authorities are now banking on election travel and the IPL to sustain the momentum in the coming months.

Passenger numbers are yet to reach the pre-Covid-19 level, but there has been a good month-on-month increase in passenger traffic. While Coimbatore (1,31,986), Madurai (82,000), Trichy (46,000) and Tuticorin (15, 165) have seen the numbers for January edging close to 70% of what it used to be in the pre-Covid-19 time, Salem has shown a 7.5% increase when compared to the same period last year.

Riding on resumption of manufacturing and businesses, Coimbatore tops in passenger volume after Chennai. Strict safety protocols when compared to other modes of transport, mandatory PPEs, and masks, frequent disinfecting of flights and terminals have reassured people about flying.

Southern region airports, which also include small airports in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and parts of Andhra, lead in the revival of aircraft and passenger movement across the country, shows the AAI data for January. The southern region airports together handled 51,969 flights with 51,58,807 passengers this January as against as against 79,366 flights with 1,00,38,29 passengers in the same period last year.

A senior official of AAI said the increase hints at a quicker revival than expected. "People have regained confidence in flying. It is expected to grow in March because of the election. A lot of people will fly to small cities in the south with the VIP leaders. Once, the election season is over, the IPL will bring in passengers. Though there will not be spectators, at least 50 to 60 people plus support staff will be flying with the teams."

08/03/21 V Ayyappan/Times of India

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment