Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri today tweeted to say that a record 2.73 lakh flew across India on Sunday, setting a "new high" since domestic flights resumed in May last year. The minister added that travellers were now considering flying as the "chosen mode of transport" and expressed hope that the numbers will reach pre-COVID numbers soon.
"2,73,845 passengers on 2,179 flights yesterday is a new high since domestic flights resumed on 25 May 2020. This takes us even closer to the Pre-COVID numbers. Flying has emerged as the chosen mode of transport which offers efficiency, safety and predictability," he tweeted.
2,73,845 passengers on 2,179 flights yesterday is a new high since domestic flights resumed on 25 May 2020. This takes us even closer to the Pre-COVID numbers. Flying has emerged as the chosen mode of transport which offers efficiency, safety & predictability. pic.twitter.com/AcJp51RGkN- Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 11, 2021
The previous new high of 252,374 was recorded on December 1.
At the time, Mr Puri tweeted, "Our airports and skies are busy again. The number of daily domestic passengers has crossed the 252K mark that is a new high since operations resumed on May 25, 2020. We expect to cross pre-COVID numbers by year-end. Aviation is emerging as India''s safe and efficient mode of transport in these times."
The domestic civil aviation sector is expected to return to normal in the next two to three months, according to Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola.
"The sector remained resilient during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but I don't think that the bad period is over. It will take the next two to three months for the country''s domestic civil aviation sector to return to its normal. Big countries like India which have huge domestic market are where future of the aviation lies," he was quoted as saying during a webinar organised by industry body FICCI.
Domestic passenger traffic has remained weak since flights resumed in late May after a two-month restriction with September data showing a 66 per cent year-on-year drop (58 per cent decline for 9M 20).
The government restricted airline capacity at 60 per cent of the March level and imposed fare bands until late February 2021.
But last week the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA), citing increased footfalls at airports, said that it is planning to increase the cap to 70-75 per cent of their pre-COVID levels.
"MOCA is monitoring traffic everyday, and it is expected that the traffic would further pickup because of the festival season and as passenger traffic increases, the upper cap would be revised to 70-75 per cent of normal capacity in the coming days," the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
With inputs from agencies