On March 24, PM Modi gave a speech imposing a 21-day lockdown in the country from March 25 to curb spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, all domestic and international commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this time period.
While cargo flights, evacuation flights and special flights including military planes are permitted by Indian aviation regulator DGCA during this lockdown, they are handful in numbers. This is clearly visible when you open the Live Air Traffic websites like FlightRadar24.
The website provides live air traffic over airspace from all over the world and is a website loved by avgeeks. If you open the website and see the live air traffic over the Indian airspace at this very moment, you will be shocked to see how empty it looks. On a normal day, Delhi's IGI Airport alone handles 600+ fights per day.
If you have seen the Indian airspace on the website before the lockdown was put in place, it looked very busy with thousands of flights flying inside the Indian airspace, and hundreds passing through the airspace.
In comparison, the airspace of China is full of air traffic. The epidemic which originated from China in late December resulted in the lockdown of the country in January.
China is the world's biggest outbound international travel market and the second-largest domestic aviation market. The country accounts for about 25% of global sales for airplane manufacturers Airbus SE and Boeing Co. About 450 million more passengers fly to, from and within China per year compared with a decade ago, according to IATA.
Now that the lockdown is over (mostly regulated), the airspace over China is again busy, especially when compared with that of India. Both the countries are the biggest aviation markets in Asia.
Historically, air traffic has returned to normal after health scares. In the case of SARS, it took nine months to recover, according to IATA. However, Coronavirus could result in even more longer time for a bounceback.
Image Courtesy: FlightRadar24
With Inputs from PTI