Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Air traffic under UDAN remains low in Q1 despite bumper sales: Sources

The Central government's ambitious regional connectivity scheme (RCS), Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), has failed to catch the eye of travellers during the first quarter of the financial year 2023-24 (Q1FY24), the busiest travel period in India’s aviation history.

Around 5.5 lakh passengers took to the air under the RCS-UDAN scheme during April-June 2023-24. During this time, domestic carriers in the country carried around 3.86 crore passengers, as per government data seen by Moneycontrol.

The number of fliers in the UDAN scheme in Q1FY24 was marginally higher than the 5.2 lakh passengers in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The slight rise in air passenger traffic comes at a time when domestic aviation witnessed an 18.6 percent year-on-year (YoY) rise in air passenger traffic and a 9.6 percent rise from the pre-pandemic Q1FY20.

For the 12 months ending March 2022, air traffic under the UDAN scheme rose to nearly 33 lakh fliers, on the back of pent-up demand for travel after multiple lockdowns.

However, the number fell to 20 lakh fliers in the first 10 months of 2022-23. An Airports Authority of India (AAI) official told Moneycontrol that around 24 lakh fliers took to the air in the RCS-UDAN scheme in 2022-23.

"Flights operated under the UDAN scheme have fallen by nearly 25 percent in the last year, as private airlines are deploying their capacity on more profitable routes," a senior official of the AAI said.

He added that due to capacity constraints following the grounding of planes of both SpiceJet and Star Air, flights under the RCS UDAN scheme took a beating in the last year.

Another official from the AAI said that the stoppage of flights under the RCS-UDAN scheme by SpiceJet and IndiGo in the past year led to a fall in passenger traffic.

07/08/2023 Yaruqhullah Khan/Moneycontrol

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