India’s domestic air traffic has hit a record high, with 456,082 passengers flying on a single day.
The milestone, which was reached on 30 April, came as 2,978 flights took off across the country.
“The skyrocketing domestic passenger traffic post Covid is a reflection of India’s high growth,” aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted.
India’s post-pandemic economic recovery has spurred a travel boom.
More than 37.5m passengers were carried by domestic airlines in just the first three months of 2023.
This marked a 51.7% growth compared to a year ago, data from the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed.
“There was no growth for two years during Covid. What we are witnessing now is a snowballing of that pent-up demand,” Mark Martin, an aviation analyst, told the BBC.
There has also been a significant increase in the number of first-time flyers since the pandemic, according to Mr Martin.
He added that air traffic in India has typically been growing at twice the pace of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), as disposable incomes rise in Asia’s third largest economy.
Earlier, a report from trade body International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed that domestic traffic in India had continued to approach pre-pandemic levels, and was down just 2.2% on February 2019 levels.
At 81.6%, India was also the top domestic market in terms of passenger load factor – the percentage of seats filled by airlines – compared to countries such as the US, China, Japan, Australia and Brazil.
But despite the healthy recovery, the industry continues to suffer due to a number of issues, including higher aviation turbine fuel prices, a depreciating rupee against the US dollar and stranded planes.
Over 50 aircraft of major Indian carriers such as IndiGo and Go First have been grounded for several months due to Pratt & Whitney engine-related issues.
“Airlines are losing billions of dollars because of this. We need at least 150 more aircraft to join the fleet to ease the load,” Mr Martin said.
India has around 1,100 fleet deliveries pending over the next few years according to ratings agency ICRA. Earlier in February, Tata Group-owned Air India announced a record deal for 470 jets from Airbus and Boeing – the largest in the history of global aviation.
But ICRA expects capacity addition to be a gradual process, given the supply chain challenges faced by the manufacturers which are “likely to constrain the production schedules”.
Source : BBC