The Airports Authority of India (AAI) incurred a cumulative loss of Rs 2,948.97 crore in 2020-21. Out of 136 airports operated by AAI, as many as 107 airports were running in losses due to COVID disruption, as per the data shared by VK Singh, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, in the Lok Sabha.
The losses were nearly half in 2019-20 when 91 of the AAI-run airports reported a total loss of Rs 1,368.82 crore. In fact, most airports in tier-I and tier-II cities reported losses in the past three years.
According to the government data, tier-II airports such as Chandigarh, Dehradun, Bhopal, Belgaum, Aurangabad, Delhi (Safdarjung), Imphal, Gaya, Dimapur, Dibrugarh, and Hubli recorded losses during FY19, FY20, and FY21. This was despite the government’s push to connect smaller airports through the regional connectivity scheme.
New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), the country’s busiest airport, also incurred a loss of Rs 317.41 crore in FY21. Similar was the case with Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), the second busiest, which reported a loss of Rs 384.81 crore in FY21. In contrast, the Pune airport registered profits in the last three financial years. Despite the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, the Pune airport reported a profit of Rs 16.09 crore during 2020-21.
Meanwhile, the 'India Airports Review FY2021' report — released by aviation consultancy firm Capa India on July 25 — stated that Indian airport operators registered a cumulative loss of Rs 7,000 crore in FY21. It added that the total passenger traffic at Indian airports fell by a massive 66.3 percent in FY21.
The Capa India report pointed out that besides COVID disruption, frequent changes in travel restrictions also contributed to airport losses. “Total traffic could have been 7-10 million passengers higher, were it not for frequent changes to travel restrictions, which caused confusion and deterred travel,” the report said.
Not just losses, the operating revenue of airports dropped too in FY21. The total operating revenue of Indian airports declined by an estimated 64.1%, added the Capa India report. However, the aviation consultancy firm said that the second half of the ongoing financial year (2021-22) can lead to a turnaround with a significant rise in air traffic.