Saturday, August 14, 2021

Tier-II flight destinations see faster recovery than metros

Mumbai: “Between January and July, Mumbai airport handled over 75 lakh domestic passengers, of whom over 48 lakh were flying to or from about 60 non-metros,” said a Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson on Friday.

These included leisure travellers and passengers flying between home and their work city as is evident from the top three non-metro destinations out of Mumbai during this period—Goa, Ahmedabad and Varanasi, that is. But metro airports were the traffic kingpins with the overall top three domestic destinations out of Mumbai being Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru.

Kapil Kaul of Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, an aviation consultancy firm, said, “Non-metro to metro routes are increasingly seeing more flight deployment during Covid. Prior to Covid, flight operations from Mumbai, especially to non-metros, were significantly constrained due to capacity shortage.”

The spike in demand for flights to non-metros began last year after domestic flights were restarted on May 25 following a two-month ban. In the new normal, business travel was negligible, metro to metro travel was down as flights packed migrants fleeing cities for their homes in Tier-IIs. This realigned domestic air traffic pattern. According to Airports Authority of India statistics, the Tier-II destinations recovered faster and they registered a lower drop in passenger traffic as compared to the metros by the end of the last fiscal.

For instance, while Mumbai airport saw a 71% drop in passenger traffic in 2020-21 as compared to the previous year, the corresponding drop was 57% for Lucknow, 51% for Ranchi and Raipur, 48% for Varanasi, 40% for Patna, 25% for Gorakhpur, 13% for Pathankot, and so on.

Kaul said, “We will see more operations to non-metros as Mumbai airport now has capacity available and airlines like IndiGo are keen to broaden their network.”

14/08/21 Times of India

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