April 14 saw highest daily domestic flyers since March 2020
NEW DELHI: Day one of this long weekend on Thursday (April 14) has seen the highest number of domestic air travellers in post-pandemic India when 393,838 people flew within the country on 2,866 flights. This is significantly higher than the previous Covid-time high of 347,942 domestic passengers on February 17, 2022.
The aviation regulator has approved a weekly schedule for 25,309 domestic flights this summer (about 3615 daily flights on an average). Thursday’s 2,866 flights indicate airlines operated 79% of the approved schedule. Domestic air traffic had been recovering steadily since last November but the steep rise in aviation turbine fuel (ATF) price along with weakening of the rupee led to a sharp rise in operating cost for airlines.
This has led to higher fares that affected growth of traffic in the price-sensitive market. The long weekend starting on Thursday with Mahavir Jayanti provided the impetus that travel-starved Indians are eager for now. “We are expecting 85% occupancy this weekend. If there are no more fuel shocks or Covid waves, then we anticipate a good summer from business perspective,” said a senior airline official.
Airlines have been asking passengers to reach airports early due to the rush. The Delhi Airport on Thursday asked passengers to reach a little earlier that usual given the surge in travel this long weekend. “We are anticipating a surge in passenger footfall at Delhi Airport in the upcoming weekend. It is advisable to reach the airport with enough time on your hands. We appreciate your patience and cooperation with the security, airline and ground staff to streamline the process,” the airport’s tweet said.