Indian Aviation Showing Strong Recovery Following COVID Crisis

After a crippling spring and early summer, Indian aviation is bouncing back impressively. Flights have now reached 68% of pre-COVID capacity and passenger numbers are around 70% of 2019 levels. Let’s take a closer look at India aviation’s rebound since June.

Indian Airlines Getty
Domestic airlines remain under a 65% capacity limit from the government, possibly holding back a further recovery. Photo: Getty Images

Data in this article is courtesy of RadarBox.com.

Back in action

After a devastating second wave of COVID-19 in April and May, the future recovery of the Indian aviation market was in doubt. Some expected that traffic would take much longer to bounce back than last year, possibly dragging down airlines for months on end. Luckily, exactly the opposite seems to have happened in the last two months.

Since early June, daily passenger numbers have surged as cities open up and passengers head out. After falling to lows of just 50,000 daily travelers, August 2nd saw a new high of 269,000 passengers take to the skies. This is only a slight way off from the pandemic-era recovery of 313,000 passengers seen on March 3rd, when cases were low.

IndiGo ATR 72-600
Amid a strong recovery, airlines are asking for capacity restrictions to be scrapped or at least increased. Photo: Getty Images

Traffic in June remained relatively weak but rising and truly only reached high gear in July, when the country reopened fully. Fast forward to August and there has been only one day when daily traffic has not exceeded 200,000. As for airlines, they are bursting at the seams to add capacity.

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More flights

At the peak of the COVID crisis in late May, airlines were only flying 777 daily domestic flights. Today, this figure has jumped 2.5 times to 1864 daily flights in the first week of August. Compared to 2019, this represents an impressive 72.6% flight capacity recovery. While numbers fell flights in the second week, they remain fairly high.

Currently, the government only allows airlines to operate 65% of their summer schedules. This has been increased from 50% in July, as demand began to rise. However, it may be these very restrictions that are preventing airlines from flying even more capacity in the coming weeks. India was allowing 80% of summer schedules before the second wave hit.

SpiceJet 737
India has tried to protect struggling airlines by imposing base fares and capacity limits on airlines. Photo: Getty Images

However, the coming weeks could see a further increase in capacity limits as the industry reaches the 65% mark. This would allow hundreds of more daily flights and allow airlines to boost frequencies on some key markets.

International back

From April to July, international flights to and from India were in a downward spiral as countries imposed travel restrictions on India. However, as these rules are eased, international services have started ticking up once again. In the second week of August (6th to 13th), 455 flights operated every day on average.

While this is much lower than the 600 daily flights seen in late March, it represents the first stretch in which flights have consistently increased. As travel opens up more and cases in India remain under control, expect to see these figures increasing too.

What do you think about the future of India’s aviation? Let us know in the comments!

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