Mumbai Airport’s Terminal 1 will reopen on Monday after nearly a year. The move comes as passenger traffic continues to rise and airlines look for more operating area. The opening may also point to Mumbai allowing more flights to operate in the coming months, even though cases are on the rise in the city again.
After India’s strict two-month lockdown last March, flights resumed in late May. However, considering passenger figures would be much lower due to the pandemic, airports with multiple terminals only decided to open one. Mumbai was one of these airports. While usually bustling and near full capacity, it opted to only reopen Terminal 2 due to low traffic.
After nearly 10 months, Mumbai has decided to reopen Terminal 1 from March 10th, allowing many budget carriers to shift operations back. T1 is the older of the two terminals and exclusively operates domestic flights. With both terminals open, traffic should be spread out and social distancing will be easier to enforce.
The following airlines have announced that they will resume domestic flights from Mumbai’s Terminal 1:
- IndiGo (only flight numbers 6E 5500-5900)
- Star Air
This means only a handful of carriers will remain at the newer Terminal 2, including Vistara, Air India, IndiGo (select flights), and all international airlines. Overall, the move will prevent crowding and lays the groundwork for passenger numbers and flights to grow in the future.
While the airport might be opening both its terminals, traffic at Mumbai remains far lower than pre-pandemic levels. The decision to cap domestic flights at just 300 rotations daily (150 in and out) means that airlines have not been able to ramp up capacity as seen in other cities.
This has meant Mumbai lags behind others in terms of recovery. However, strong business and leisure traffic has still kept the airport busy in the last few months.
To further complicate matters Mumbai, and the state of Maharastra, has seen infections surge in the last few weeks, raising concerns of a second wave. Cities like Delhi have already begun requiring pre-flight testing for passengers arriving from Mumbai, impacting traffic.
If cases continue rising unchecked, traffic will likely fall in the coming month, imperiling a strong recovery since last winter.
Second wave impact?
For months, India bucked global aviation trends as the domestic sector continued to recover, regardless of case numbers. After two months of low cases, domestic passenger numbers are fast reaching pre-pandemic levels, with over 300,000 daily travelers. However, this confidence in air travel could be hurt by rising cases in several parts of the country.
But India may not be impacted by a second wave as badly as regions like Europe, which has flights fall dramatically. For now, airlines and the government are hoping the rising cases can be checked before hurting the industry further.
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