Domestic air traffic reaches new high on Friday over Diwali rush

Seat occupancy has remained stable as the government has allowed for gradual ramp up in capacity
Indian airports handled the highest passenger volume this season on Friday as residents headed out to native places and leisure destinations for Diwali festival.

Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted that domestic aviation operations reached a new high on occasion of Diwali as 2,25,097 passengers flew on 1,903 flights. 

Domestic air travel resumed on May 25 with limits on number of flights and caps on fares. The civil aviation ministry has now allowed the airlines to operate 70 per cent of capacity.

The country’s busiest airports in Delhi and Mumbai saw highest footfalls on Friday as seat occupancy rose from around 60-65 per cent to over 70 per cent. While Delhi handled 81,570 passengers, Mumbai saw 46,442 passengers.

"Month on month we are seeing an improvement in traffic. Business on Diwali has been better than Dussera," said a senior executive of a private airline. Seat occupancy has remained stable as the government has allowed for gradual ramp up in capacity. However traffic is still 50 per cent of pre-Covid level.

"Its a good trend and we hope traffic will sustain," head of another airline added.

"Last year's top routes during Diwali were dominated by routes between Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore. This year, we see routes from business centers in the West and South to destinations in the North and East feature in the top 10 routes. These routes include Delhi-Patna, Mumbai-Varanasi, Bangalore-Patna feature consistently. This trend indicates that customers this year are preferring to return homes and spend time with their families," online portal said.

The portal said customers are preferring to book closer to the date of travel this year and this is in line with trends witnessed since the pandemic, where uncertainty around travel restrictions has made customers book closer to travel dates. Advance booking share greater than four weeks has dropped from 44 per cent last year to 25 per cent this year," the portal said.

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