MIAMI – The demand for air travel during the holidays has helped India’s air traffic recover after a dark period. Indeed, passenger volume saw sequential growth of 22% in the previous month, India’s ICRA rating agency NSE said Wednesday. The ICRA also said that November domestic passenger traffic was close to 50% of domestic air travel demand in November 2019.

However, the resumption of air traffic could suffer further brakes, thanks to the new restrictions on the United Kingdom due to the new viral strain. A total of 63.54 lakhs of domestic passengers traveled by air in November, 51% less than in the corresponding period last year, according to traffic data from the DGCA released last week. By October, air traffic was down 57% compared to October 2019.

Air India Boeing 777-300ER Photo: Max Langley

Statement from ICRA Vicepresident

Anupama Arora, Vice President for aviation infrastructure at ICRA Ltd, said, “The permitted increase in seats to up to 70 per cent of aircraft capacity aided by tailwinds from festive season supported the recovery in domestic passenger traffic in November, a 22 per cent month-on-month growth, thus inching up to 50 per cent of November 2019 levels.”

“Such an improvement was possible even as some high traffic routes, especially flights carrying passengers from identified states into Mumbai, witnessed increased testing requirements for part of the month.”

Air India Boeing 787-8 Photo: Air India

Statement from Maharashtra

“The international passenger traffic, currently confined merely to Vande Bharat and bilateral arrangements, continues to struggle amidst country-specific periodic restrictions. In our opinion, the recovery in international passenger traffic is likely to further get delayed with imposition of travel restrictions post resurgence in select countries as well as detection of new virus strain in the UK”.

The government also said flights will be suspended from December 23 to December 31 due to the new strain. It also said that all passengers arriving from the UK on Monday and Tuesday would be mandatorily tested for coronavirus upon arrival at airports.

The Maharashtra government in a circular on Monday said it has decided to conduct institutional quarantine for passengers from all over Europe and the Middle East for 14 days after landing at the airport, as well as home quarantine for passengers from other countries.

Featured image: Air India 777-200LR. Photo: Luca Flores (@luca_at_lax)