Delhi Airport has seen a gradual growth in passenger numbers in line with the recovery in air travel demand, as around 90,000 passengers travelled per day through the facility during the first 10 days of this month, according to a White Paper by GMR.
This is five times more than the mid-May passenger volumes when Delhi Airport handled around 18,000 travellers per day. The number by the end of June 2021 increased to about 62,000 passengers per day, the White Paper released on Friday said.
According to GMR, with the improvement in COVID situation and the high level of vaccinations being achieved, domestic traffic is expected to reach pre-COVID level by the end of FY23. However, given the situation, international traffic could attain pre-COVID levels only by FY24.
In July, the airport handled around 2.29 million passengers, which is 60 per cent less than the 5.80 million passengers handled in the same month in 2019. Similarly, air traffic movements in July were also 45 per cent less at 20,800 compared to 37,700 services operated in July 2019, as per the White Paper.
Once the severe impact of the second COVID wave eased, people felt the need to travel to their respective homes/base locations, thereby Visiting Family and Relatives (VFR) travel has pushed up the passenger numbers, according the White Paper, which also observed a slight pickup in business travel demand (with gradual opening of offices).
"But it is still very much subdued. The leisure travel (tourists) has also picked up, with the opening of tourist destinations across the country," it said.
The government allowing airline companies to operate up to 72.5 per cent of their total domestic capacity also resulted in gradual increase in passenger traffic. From June, the government started relaxing capacity from 50 per cent to current levels of 72.5 per cent, GMR said in the White Paper.
This came following the lowering down of impact of COVID second wave and to safeguard aviation industries’ viability battling with weak finances. The increased capacity, complemented with opening of new routes, allowed airlines to manage increased passenger numbers, it said.
With the arrival of the festive season, Delhi Airport witnessed a positive traction in domestic travel. There is a propensity to travel with the increase in total vaccinations across the country, but it is, of course, contingent on emergence of a third wave of COVID, GMR said.
"We may see adoption of a common travel pass based on vaccination and testing status for International travel in coming months. However, it is too early to comment on the resumption of scheduled International travel in the next three months," it said.