Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

Domestic air traffic fell 67% to 2 mn fliers in May: ICRA

- Rhik Kundu

Domestic air traffic dropped to about 2 million passengers during May, registerin­g a 67% decline from the previous month due to the second wave of the pandemic, credit rating agency ICRA said in a report on Thursday.

The domestic air passenger traffic levels registered during May 2021 was lower than that registered during June-july 2020 period following a twomonth nationwide lockdown that was lifted by the government in May 2020.

The airlines’ capacity deployment for May 2021 was lower by about 54-55% compared to April 2021 (about 27,700 departures in May 2021 against about 60,300 departures in April 2021), as people avoided air travel due to the rise in infections, the report said.

The imposition of mandatory home quarantine measures, and the lockdowns imposed by various states and Union territorie­s have also adversely impacted passenger traffic and airline operations.

During May, the average daily departures stood at 900, significan­tly lower than 2,000 departures registered in the preceding month, ICRA said in the report.

“The average number of passengers per flight during May 2021 was 72, against an average of 93 passengers per flight in April 2021,” said Kinjal Shah, vice-president and co-group head at ICRA.

“The gradual decline depicts the continuing stress on demand, driven largely by the second wave of Covid-19, limiting travel to only necessary travel, while both leisure and business travel have been curtailed due to various state-wide restrictio­ns and the spread of the infections,” Shah added.

Indian airlines will incur net losses of about ₹21,000 crore this financial year following the widespread disruption­s caused by the pandemic and would require additional funding of up to ₹37,000 crore through FY23 to recover from their losses and debt, according to Icra estimates.

However, support from the government in the form of upward revision in airfares and coverage of the sector under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) 3.0 is positive for the industry, providing the airlines with the muchneeded liquidity support, it added.

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