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Domestic air traffic jumps by 59% y-o-y, but 40% lower than pre-pandemic level: ICRA

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  • On a sequential basis, domestic passenger traffic spiked about 37 percent to 10.6 million in March
  • The rising ATF prices continue to play a spoilsport for the industry and will pose a serious threat to the sector’s earnings in FY23

New Delhi: India’s domestic air passenger traffic is estimated to have grown by around 59 percent year-on-year to 84 million in FY22, although it is still about 40 percent lower as compared to the pre-pandemic level, said credit ratings agency ICRA in a report on Monday. It also expects elevated Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices, aggravated by geo-political issues, to remain a near-term challenge for the industry and to be a key determinant of profitability for the sector.

On a sequential basis, domestic passenger traffic spiked about 37 percent to 10.6 million in March, driven by a near to normalcy in airline operations owing to waning of impact of the pandemic, said the report.

The domestic air passenger traffic on local air routes was 7.7 million in February 2022, it added.

Domestic air traffic growth in March stood at 35%

Air traffic growth in March this year stood at 35 percent as compared to over 7.8 million in the year-ago month, it said. Airlines’ capacity deployment for March 2022 registered a growth of 12 percent at 80,217 departures as compared to over 71,548 departures clocked in the same month of the last year, ICRA said.

Domestic departures logged 42 percent growth in March this year over the previous month, driven by increased pace of vaccination and rapid abatement of the third wave of COVID-19, which allowed for quick lifting of travel restrictions, it added.

FY22 domestic passenger traffic higher than estimates: ICRA

“Domestic passenger traffic for FY2022 is estimated at around 84 million, y-o-y growth of 59 percent, marginally higher than our estimate of 80-82 million, although it is around 40 percent lower than pre-COVID levels,” Vice President and Sector Head of ICRA Suprio Banerjee said.

For March this year, the average daily departures were at around 2,588, higher than the average daily departures of around 2,308 in March 2021, and notably higher compared to around 2,023 in February 2022, he said.

The average number of passengers per flight during March this year was at 132, against an average of 135 passengers per flight in February, Banerjee said.

ATF prices to impact aviation sector’s earnings in FY23

According to ICRA, one major positive development is the resumption of scheduled international operations from March 27 after a hiatus of almost two years. ATF prices have surged by around 93 percent year-on-year in April this year, given the elevated crude oil prices, geo-political issues arising from Russian-Ukraine war, the ratings agency said.

The rising ATF prices continue to play a spoilsport for the industry and will pose a serious threat to the sector’s earnings in FY23, it said.

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