Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport — between May 25 (when domestic flight operations began in the country) and August 25 — handled around 37% of the country’s total air traffic movements, data shared by airport operator DIAL showed.
DIAL (Delhi International Airport Ltd) said this number was at least 21% higher than the domestic air traffic the Delhi airport handled during the pre-Covid period.
Air traffic movement in the country was suspended on March 25 this year to contain the spread of Covid-19. After two months of complete lockdown, the government resumed flight operations in May.
While international flights continue to remain restricted and are being operated on select routes only under the Vande Bharat Mission within an air bubble agreement, movement of all domestic flights on all routes has been allowed.
Data from Delhi airport further states that during the first nine weeks of resumption of service, the airport recorded a significant rise in the number of domestic fliers compared to pre-Covid traffic. The airport used to cater to 18% of the country’s domestic air traffic passenger share before the lockdown. The number shot up to 26%, in the nine weeks after the lockdown on air travel was lifted.
In terms of footfall, Delhi International Airport Ltd said, while domestic passenger footfall increased from 8,93,000 (per month average during pre-Covid period) to an average footfall of 9,99,000 between May 25 and August 25, the international section saw an increase in passenger footfall from 1,15,000 to 2,15,000 during the same period.
Explaining the hike, an official from the airport said the 21% raise in domestic traffic was primarily because Delhi has better domestic connectivity to other parts of the country.
Also, when air space was opened, a lot of international passengers flew in to Delhi and then continued on to their onwards domestic journeys from IGI, thereby raising the footfall in Delhi drastically.
The official further said, many airports, due to their state policies or other reasons, could not resume flight operations immediately from May 25, shifting their passenger loads to other airports.
This also resulted in many passengers booking their departing or arriving
flights from or to Delhi airport, he said.
Delhi International Airport Ltd added, that Delhi airport also catered to 36% of the country’s total international passengers traffic, under Vande Bharat Mission, raising the IGI airport’s international traffic by 9%. Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, Delhi airport was handling 27% of India the country’s total international passengers.
An official from the Delhi Air Traffic Control said the domestic air traffic has recovered by up to 50-60% in August as compared to the pre-Covid lockdown period.
“Earlier, an average of 1,300 flight operations were handled by the ATC at Delhi airport in a day. After May 25, when airspace was reopened, traffic had slowed down and the ATC handled only about 20-30% of the daily pre-Covid flights. But that is changing and the aviation sector is slowly regaining its pace and the per day air traffic is back to almost 50-60% (of pre-Covid times),” the official said.
With increasing domestic traffic, the Delhi airport has also decided to reopen Terminal 2. At present, only Terminal 3 is in service.
Starting October 1, GoAir will shift all its flight operations back to T2. IndiGo will also partially shift back some of its flights to T2. Terminal 1, that is undergoing expansion, will continue to remain closed.