Pent-up demand, along with low base and easing of Covid restrictions, pushed India’s domestic air passenger traffic higher in June 2021. According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the country’s scheduled domestic flight operations ferried 31.13 lakh passengers last month. In June 2020, the number stood at 19.84 lakh, while on a sequential basis, the sector had ferried 21.15 lakh.
Last year, domestic flight services recommenced on May 25, 2020 after suspension due to Covid-19 in end March.
However, during the second wave in 2021, limited civil aviation operations were permitted.
“Passengers carried by domestic airlines during January-June 2021 were 343.37 lakhs as against 351.78 lakhs during the corresponding period of previous year thereby registering annual (negative) growth of (-) 2.39 per cent," the DGCA said in its June data report.
Besides, the report cited that the overall cancellation rate of scheduled domestic airlines for the month of June 21 has been 2.90 per cent.
“During June 2021, a total of 301 passenger related complaints had been received by the scheduled domestic airlines. The number of complaints per 10,000 passengers carried for the month of June 2021 has been around 0.97."
However, amid the growth, there are also a few challenges in the way of a complete recovery. For instance, state-run refiners increased the jet fuel prices on Friday adding more worries to the Indian carriers struggling to reboot operations after extensive disruptions due to the fresh wave of the pandemic. The move is expected to make air travel more expensive, further impacting demand.
In the National capital, ATF prices for domestic airlines increased by 2.44 per cent from Rs 68,262.35 per kilolitre on July 1 to Rs 69,857.97 on July 16. In Mumbai too ATF rose from a level of Rs 66,482.90 per Kl to Rs 68,064.65 per Kl on Friday.
Any increase in jet fuel prices by state-run refiners swells the operating costs of Indian carriers. Aviation turbine fuel (ATF) accounts for 35-50 per cent of the cost of running an airline in India.
Moreover, the flurry of price increases may further stress the balance sheets of airlines who are making desperate efforts to stay afloat. ATF prices have risen close to 40 per cent since January this year from a level of just around Rs 50,000 per Kl at the beginning of the year to over Rs 70,000 per Kl now.
(With inputs from Wire Agenies)