Domestic air passenger traffic grew by 24-25 per cent at around 87-88 lakh in October 2021, compared to 71 lakh in September 2021. The airlines’ capacity deployment for October 2021 was around 46 per cent higher than October 2020 (72,000 departures in October 2021, in comparison to 49,150 departures in October 2020). On a sequential basis, the number of departures in October 2021 were higher by 18 per cent, as Covid-19 infections demonstrated a downward trajectory.

Commenting further, Suprio Banerjee, Vice President & Sector Head, ICRA said, “For October 2021, the average daily departures were at 2,400, significantly higher than the average daily departures of 1585 in October 2020, and higher than 2,100 in September 2021. The average number of passengers per flight during October 2021 was 122, against an average of 117 passengers per flight in September 2021. Though the recovery continued in October 2021, demand continues to be subdued from the corporate traveller segment as reflected by passenger traffic being lower by 28 per cent in October 2021 compared to pre-Covid levels.”

With effect from October 18, 2021, Ministry of Civil Aviation has allowed restoration of permitted capacity to 100 per cent for the domestic operations. In ICRA’s view, the increase in permitted capacity to 100 per cent levels is a step in the right direction, given the onset of the festive season. It may be recalled that the MoCA had reduced the permissible capacity deployment to 50 per cent of pre-Covid levels, with effect from June 01, 2021 due to the resurgence of the second wave of the pandemic. It had subsequently increased the permitted capacity to 72.5 per cent, with effect from August 12, 2021 and increasing the capacity further to 85 per cent with effect from September 18, 2021.