NEW DELHI: Indian travellers are almost back to flying at pre-Covid level due to the decreasing impact of the pandemic marking a growth of around 37% in domestic air passenger traffic from around 77 lakh in February 2022 to around 106 lakh in March 2022, 12% higher than March 2021, according to rating agency ICRA.
“There were 80,217 departures in March 2022 against 71,548 departures in March 2021,” ICRA said. It also said that the number of departures in March 2022 were higher by around 42%, driven by the increased pace of vaccination and rapid abatement of the third wave of Covid-19, which allowed for quick lifting of travel restrictions.
India resumed scheduled international operations from March 27, 2022, after almost two years of its closure. While the scheduled international operations were suspended till March 27, 2022, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) permitted international operations under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) and air transport Bubbles (ATB).
Suprio Banerjee, vice president and sector head, ICRA said, “Domestic passenger traffic for FY2022 is estimated at around 84 million, YoY growth of around 59%, marginally higher than our estimate of 80-82 million, although it is around 40% lower than pre-Covid levels. For March 2022, the average daily departures were at around 2,588, higher than the average daily departures of around 2,308 in March 2021, and notably higher compared to around 2,023 in February 2022.”
The average number of passengers per flight during March 2022 was at 132, against an average of 135 passengers per flight in February 2022.
The ATF prices have surged by around 93% on a YoY basis in April 2022. ICRA said that the increase is due to the geo-political issues arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The rising ATF prices continue to play spoilsport for the industry and will pose a serious threat to the sector earnings in FY2023. Elevated ATF prices aggravated by geo-political issues will remain a near-term challenge for the industry and will be a key determinant of profitability for the industry,” Banerjee concluded.