'Happy Diwali' for airlines; footfall touches new high as people rush to native places

Hardeep Singh Puri says domestic aviation operations touched a new high, with over 2,25,097 passengers travelling in 1,903 flights; says airports witnessed footfall of 4,47,870 on Diwali

Domestic air services resumed in India on May 25 Domestic air services resumed in India on May 25

The Diwali festivities have brought cheers to the otherwise coronavirus-affected aviation industry, with airlines witnessing record passenger volume during the current season. Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, in a tweet, congratulated the country for achieving this milestone. "On this joyous occasion, domestic aviation operations in the country touched a new high. 2,25,097 passengers on 1,903 flights. Total flight movements 3,809. Footfalls at airports 4,47,870," he said.

The minister also said that India's Vande Bharat Mission has facilitated international travel of more than 29.6 lakh stranded and distressed citizens so far. "Continuing to reach out with more air bubble arrangements, flights and destinations," he added.

After the coronavirus-induced lockdown was imposed in the country, the government resumed a limited number of domestic air services on May 25. At the time, airlines were permitted to operate just 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. The limit on the number of flights was gradually increased up to 70 per cent.

Ahead of Diwali on Friday, airports in Mumbai and Delhi, which have the country's busiest terminals, saw seat occupancy going to 70 per cent from 60-65 per cent earlier, Business Standard reported. "Month on month we are seeing an improvement in traffic. Business on Diwali has been better than Dussehra," said a senior private airline executive told the news daily. The national capital witnessed a footfall of 81,570 passengers, while Mumbai saw 46,442 passengers travelling via airlines on Friday.

Besides, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has approved 12,983 weekly domestic flights of airlines for the winter schedule that started on October 25 and will go on till March 27, 2021. In last year's winter schedule, the aviation regulator had approved 23,307 weekly domestic flights.

Also read: Airlines allowed to fly 12,983 weekly domestic flights in winter schedule