Air passenger traffic in India continued its growth momentum for the third straight month in March, underscoring improving traveller confidence amid receding coronavirus cases and addition of new flights by airlines.
Data issued by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) showed Indian airports catered to 24.43 million passengers in March, rising from 17.66 million passengers in February and 15.27 million in January.
The number of domestic passengers catered by airports stood at 21.12 million in March, up from 15.28 million in the previous month.
During March, the number of international passengers rose to 3.31 million from 2.38 million in the previous month as the government lifted a ban on scheduled international flights from 27 March, after nearly two years.
Until then, international flights were operated through bilateral so-called air bubble agreements between India and select countries.
“On a sequential basis, the number of departures in March 2022 were higher by around 42%, driven by the increased pace of vaccination and rapid abatement of the third wave of Covid-19, which allowed for quick lifting of travel restrictions,” rating agency Icra Ltd said in a recent report.
Demand for international flights is set to increase further in April with the lifting of the ban on international flights.
An industry official said he expects travel demand to start improving from the upcoming summer holiday season.
“However, corporate bookings could take a few months to recover to its pre-pandemic level,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Airports in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata recorded the highest domestic air passenger traffic during March.
In terms of international traffic, the airports in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi and Chennai were the busiest, showed the data from AAI, which runs most airports in the country.
New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport reported as many as 4.09 million domestic passengers in March, up from 3.07 million in the previous month.
Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport recorded 2.49 million domestic fliers in March, compared to 1.9 million in February.
Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport and Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport registered 1.97 million and 1.38 million passengers, respectively, during March, increasing from 1.3 million and 0.99 million domestic passengers, respectively, in February.
In terms of international traffic, New Delhi recorded 983,728 international passengers in March, up from 722,431 passengers in February, while Mumbai reported 538,586 passengers in March, up from 367,223 passengers during February.