The demand for air travel has shown a slow but consistent recovery over the last three months with daily passenger traffic in August rising to an average of over two lakh passengers, a 100 percent jump as compared to June.
In August, average daily passenger traffic of 210,000 passengers and an average of 1800 daily flight departures were registered, according to data from the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
As per travel portal EaseMyTrip, the air ticket bookings to and from Tier 2 cities have been significantly higher than that of metro cities since the beginning of the second quarter.
“The travel industry is going through a revenge travel phase, which has been a key factor in contributing to the increase in passenger numbers. The recently announced exemption of RT-PCR tests for vaccinated travellers has also improved the overall travel sentiment and will further lead to a rise in passenger traffic,” Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-founder, EaseMyTrip said.
During the period of July 1- August 15, EaseMyTrip has seen a 400 percent growth in forward bookings for December, when compared to last year, and leisure destinations such as Goa, Jaipur, Leh and Srinagar are most popular among passenger volumes flying out of metro cities.
Owing to the low base and pick-up in demand, rating agency ICRA expects the domestic passenger traffic to witness a year-on-year (YoY) growth of 45-50 percent in FY2022, reaching about 77-80 million passengers. This will still be lower than the FY2016 domestic passenger traffic.
“Currently, both business and leisure travel have been impacted as consumers are wary of travelling due to the fear of contracting the virus and also due to state-specific quarantine norms and stringent travel restrictions. The former is also impacted owing to the work-from-home situation for several corporates in the country. We expect leisure travel to pick up first, followed by business travel,” Kinjal Shah, Vice President and Co-Group Head - Corporate Ratings, ICRA Limited said.
He added that ICRA expects the domestic passenger traffic to reach pre-COVID levels only by FY 2024.
During the first 10 days of August, Delhi airport witnessed a daily traffic of 90,000 passengers, five times than May. The airport witnessed a rise in demand pushed by Visiting Family and Relatives (VFR) travel. “Air travel segment is showing signs of revival and airports are gradually becoming busier place, airlines adding new routes”, the Delhi airport said.
Overall, business or corporate travel is still subdued and it is the leisure travel that has pushed up demand for air travel in India, experts unanimously said.
While air traffic via commercial aircraft is hovering around 50-60 percent of pre-pandemic traffic, travel via private jets in India has already reached close to pre-COVID levels, as per private jet operator and leasing company JetSetGo.
“Traffic in private jet has gone back to pre-pandemic levels. I see this state over the next two years. I knew a lot of people in India who could hire private jets but didn't earlier…those same people are flying private now on account of safety. Safety has become priority, we are seeing this change dramatically. We have new customers in the form of Startups founders, CXOs, healthcare professionals,” JetSetGo CEO Kanika Tekriwal said.
As far as international destinations are concerned, the traffic has picked up over the last two months on account of rise in leisure travel as some countries like Maldives have re-opened for Indian tourists and the rise in traffic has also been led by students going abroad for studies.
However, as visa restrictions have limited travel options for many people, for essential travel such as parents who want to accompany or visit their kids abroad, several alternative routes have emerged resulting in Mexico, Russia, and Serbia becoming extremely popular since the last two months.
“Children going to colleges are allowed to travel as per visa restrictions. Parents are not able to fly directly from India as per visa norms. We are seeing a lot of people going to Belgrade, Serbia, Mexico, Moscow, St Petersburg, Russia, Maldives, Dubai where families spend 14 days and then are able to enter the US. I have seen this happening for the past two months. Mexico has been a very big destination in that,” Tekriwal added.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)
First Published: IST