Past The Peak? India’s Passengers Increase Four Weeks In A Row

In a positive step for Indian aviation, domestic passenger numbers have increased for four weeks running now. Sunday saw daily traffic reach a post-second wave high of over 146,100 travelers. The news comes as cases in India continue to fall and first dose vaccination rates quickly ramp up.

Multiple Indian airlines parked
Airlines have seen passenger numbers increase since mid-May, when the cases in India began falling. Photo: Getty Images

Good news

According to a report from ICICI Securities, seen in Mint, domestic traffic has increased for four weeks straight. Passenger numbers have consistently risen from the week of 29th May to the one ending 26th June, consistent with falling cases in India. This is consistent with comments from airlines, which have seen bookings increase from the middle of May onwards.

The week of 19th June saw daily passenger numbers rise from 108,000 travelers daily to 114,000, a 5.1% increase. Moreover, travelers per flight rose slightly from 86 to 90, and daily departures increased 4.1%. Overall, all signs point towards a sustained recovery taking place in the domestic sector.

GoAir A320 SpiceJet
The increasing numbers will come as a relief for airlines, which have been facing serious cash shortages during the second wave. Photo: Getty Images

Traffic has continued a strong increase in recent days too. This weekend saw an impressive 279,583 passengers, outpacing the figure seen previously. Daily flights stood at 1,326 on Sunday and 1,241 on Saturday, indicating that airlines are also increasing schedule in line with demand increases. If these figures hold during this week, it could make for a major week-on-week jump.

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Fears

While the recovery of traffic is a good sign for airlines, the news is not all rosy. The devastating second wave has impacted passenger confidence and constant fears of a third wave of infections means that it’s unlikely that a full recovery will occur in the coming months. Realistically, airlines do not expect to see a substantial recovery of traffic until a significant portion of India is fully vaccinated.

On this front, there is good news and bad news. The last week has seen vaccination ramp up quickly, reaching well over 6 million doses per day. However, the extended gap of 12 weeks between doses and India’s vast population means that only 20% of the popular has received one dose, and only 4.3% are fully vaccinated.

Air India Planes
If high vaccination rates and herd immunity is key to a full recovery, then Indian aviation has a long way. Photo: Getty Images

This means a full domestic recovery will stretch into early 2022, assuming there isn’t another major wave of cases. For now, major carriers like IndiGo are building up funds to weather another rocky year of passenger traffic.

International

When it comes to international traffic, the situation remains bleak. Countries continue to maintain strict travel bans on India, prevening nearly all non-essential travel and causing flight traffic to plummet. While countries like UAE have eased restrictions slightly, it will be a while before any kind of sustained recovery begins.

The coming weeks will hopefully continue to see Indian aviation find its feet. If cases remain low and vaccinations high, Indian airlines can be cautiously optimistic that 2021 will be better than the year gone by and better days are on the horizon.

What do you think about the future of Indian aviation and its recovery? Let us know in the comments!

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