IGIA just shy of reaching pre-Covid levels as air traffic rises (IANS Special)

Higher domestic airline capacity along with recently concluded holiday seasons have accelerated air passenger growth of national capital’s IGI Airport.

Consequently, the airport has managed on an average of about 85,000 passengers per day in January 2021.

According to Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL): “Next few months are likely to continue increasing at a gradual pace till another holiday season like Holi comes in”.

“If vaccination drive continues and no other waves of Covid variants come in, summer months are likely to see good growth in domestic passenger trend.”

The domestic flight services had resumed on May 25, after many anxious moments and exactly two months after they were suspended due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Nevertheless, challenges such as new state specific flight acceptance and quarantine norms along with a limited initial flight deployment capacity hampered growth.

At present, easing travel restrictions, and initial revival in business sentiment has triggered the growth cycle of the industry.

Jaipuriar noted that growth in recent months was made possible on account of gradual exhaustion of pent-up demand as well as opening of domestic capacity.

“The initial period of stringent lockdown, brought in a need for people to travel to their respective homes, base locations. But, as the relaxations eased up gradually, this pent up demand for people has diminished substantially.”

On the business travel side, he cited a slight pickup in demand with gradual opening of offices. However, the growth rate “is still very much subdued”.

“Moreover, leisure travel was witnessed during the holiday season only, otherwise it still continues to be relatively muted.”

Furthermore, Jaipuriar pointed out the increase in capacity complemented with opening of new routes has been the other factor for sequential growth.

Recently, Centre allowed domestic airlines to deploy up to 80 per cent of their flight capacity.

The airport has also played a pivotal role as a logistics hub during the lockdown days it is now handling around 75 per cent of domestic flight movements during the pre-Covid era.

Currently, the airport is handling around 920 (including freighter) air traffic movements, which is close to 65 per cent of pre-Covid levels and on an average over 92,000 domestic passengers daily.

In addition, the airport is now connected to 75 domestic destinations as compared to pre-Covid numbers of 73 destinations.

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at rohit.v@ians.in)