Passenger traffic in India is continuing its climb this month, with over 150,000 domestic passengers flying daily. While international flights still remain low, over 4,000 per day also returned to India on Vande Bharat repatriation flights. The government is considering allowing airlines to ramp up to 75% of pre-pandemic capacity to meet the rising demand.
As has become common, India is seeing domestic passenger traffic going up steadily every month. The country saw 180,000 travelers fly on Sunday, a dramatic rise from the 35,000 who took to the skies in May. The growth has been steady as passengers become more confident in air travel and lockdown measures are eased nationally.
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However, there is little traffic outside of domestic flights. Over 4,000 passengers return every day on Vande Bharat flights (which includes all international Air India flights). Vande Bharat is now in its 7th phase and shows no signs of slowing down.
India has also signed several bilateral travel bubbles, which allow for limited flights between countries. However, international traffic remains sluggish, even with these slowly growing international flights.
Seeing India’s current numbers, we can expect the country to surpass the 200,000 mark in the coming weeks. This will be due to increased traffic in the upcoming festival seasons, which sees thousands travel to meet family and friends.
Who is leading the market?
While domestic traffic is rising, airlines are competing for market share. IndiGo has cemented its lead in the market, clocking nearly 60% market share in August. SpiceJet comes in at a distant second at 13.8%. While the top two have retained their positions, other airlines have changed positions, according to Mint.
Air India has dropped into single digits, carrying only 9.8% of the passengers. This comes as the airline focuses on long-haul repatriation flights. GoAir has suffered a significant drop to just 4.7% market share, down from nearly 10% at the start of the year. AirAsia India and Vistara both saw their market shares hold roughly steady at 6.8% and 5%.
Airlines have been slowly adding capacity to reduce costs and bring in maximum revenue. To cope with an expected rise during the festival season, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri is considering raising the capacity limit to 75% from the current 60%, according to ETNow.
Is flying safe?
While passenger numbers are rising, so are COVID cases, which begs the question: is it safe to fly? The short answer is yes. IATA predicts that you are twice as likely to get struck by lightning than you are to get COVID-19 on a flight with all the safety precautions in place. To quantify this, the chances of getting COVID on a plane is, in the worst case, 1 in 2.7 million.
The coming months will be a boost for Indian airlines which have been financially struggling this year. India still expects to recover to 300,000 daily passengers by the end of the year, a remarkable feat if it is achieved.
Have you flown domestically since the pandemic? Let us know in the comments!