Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Despite 3rd wave, number of flyers has grown 5 times since 2nd wave in Kolkata

Kolkata:  Unlike the second wave, when flyer count took a plunge as Covid cases soared, the sweeping third wave is yet to act as a deterrent for air travellers.

In the one month period between mid-December 2021 and mid-January 2022, the Kolkata airport has clocked five times the number of passengers it had recorded in May 2021, when the second wave was at its peak. While only 2.5 lakh passengers had travelled during May 2021 when the second wave was at its peak, 12.6 lakh passengers travelled in 31 days during the third wave.

Representatives of the travel trade community said airlines as well as travel agents were petrified when Covid cases began shooting up in mid-December and passengers were detected with the Omicron variant in the country initially. But their fears were allayed by the passenger figure.

“During the second wave of the pandemic, airlines had to cut down on flights as passenger count had plunged. This time, more than twice the number of flights have been operating out of Kolkata. Yet, loads on flights have been more than twice that of the second wave,” an airline official said. Against 4,367 flights that operated in the month during the second wave, 9,833 flights operated in the month-long period during the third wave.

Rahul Wadhwa, chairman of Airlines’ Operators Committee at Kolkata airport, said it was the severity of the infection and high mortality rate during the second wave that had driven people indoors, out of fear of contracting the virus. “Though many more people are getting infected this time, that fear is absent as a majority of patients are also recovering quickly without the need for hospitalization,” said Wadhwa.

A senior official at the Kolkata airport pointed out that the passenger footfall did fall by nearly 40% but it was primarily owing to the restrictions on flights on two high-density sectors: Delhi-Kolkata and Mumbai-Kolkata. “That a majority of the adult population is vaccinated and those infected are recovering in less than a week have boosted travellers’ confidence,” said the official.

19/01/22 Subhro Niyogi & Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India

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