In the wake of the coronavirus scare, India had suspended all domestic and international flights since March 25, 2020. After a gap of exactly two months, domestic flights resumed in the country on May 25. In Kolkata, the flights resumed three days later, as Cyclone Amphan had left the airport premises devasted. To bring back the stranded Indians, some international flights resumed as part of the Vande Bharat Mission. Flights to the US and some European countries had started under the bilateral air bubble arrangements. Till now, in general, the country is not allowing international air travel excluding the flights approved by the MHA. The beginning of September marks the 100th day of the resumption of domestic flights in India after lockdown. And these are the airports that have received the maximum traffic in the last few months:
1. Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore
Prior to the pandemic, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport was considered the second busiest airport in India after the Delhi airport. But a month ago, the air traffic in KIA, Bangalore crossed the numbers of Mumbai airport, as per the data released by the Airports Authority of India. According to the statistics reports, Bangalore airport had received traffic of 4,54,704 flyers for the April-June 2020 period. Mumbai had received 3,19,412 passengers for the same period. The air traffic in Bangalore was higher than all the airports in India, except Delhi, which had recorded a number of 12,31,338 fliers. As per the latest Indian Express report, KIA has facilitated travel for nearly 1.4 million domestic flyers after the lockdown relaxations. Bangalore International Airport Limited has reported that around 15,658 air traffic movements occurred between May 25 and September 1.
2. Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi
According to a traffic report released a year ago, Delhi’s IGI airport was ranked the 12th busiest airport in the world. As per statistics, it has received the maximum number of flyers from April to June 2020. Many passengers travelling on the Vande Bharat flights too had changed their flights at Delhi airport. As per the latest PTI report, the government is also mulling over setting up a COVID-19 testing facility at the Delhi airport for international travellers.
A GMR report released on August 24 states, “In July, Delhi Airport served 23% of the total passengers handled by all Indian airports, a rise from 18% during the pre-COVID-19 phase. This is the highest passenger share handled by any Indian airport after the resumption of domestic air services, thereby indicating the propensity of passengers to travel. In July, Delhi Airport served 23% of the total passengers handled by all Indian airports, a rise from 18% during pre-COVID-19 phase. This is the highest passenger share handled by any Indian airport after the resumption of domestic air services, thereby indicating the propensity of passengers to travel. ”
The report added, “Before the lockdown, Indira Gandhi International Airport held a 27% share of India’s international passengers. Between April and May (in which most international relief flights were operated through India), New Delhi Airport attained 36% of international passenger traffic of India, highest among all Indian airports. However, these records are way behind the actual capacity of Indira Gandhi International Airport, which is more than two lakh footfalls a month before the lockdown.”
3. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai
On August 18, Mumbai airport had posted on Twitter, “We are always striving to make air travel as safe and secure as possible. We are glad our continuous efforts have been recognised and air travel has emerged as the preferred mode over road and rail in & out of Mumbai. We welcome you to experience it for yourself!” The post added that 98.4% of passengers have found Mumbai airport safer than bus or train stations.
The AAI report for the April-June period had shown a drop in the number of flyers in Mumbai airport to 3,19, 412, from 1,11,32,082 passengers last year, during the same time. This was due to the fact that Maharashtra had recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in India and many states and cities had banned the entry of flights from Mumbai. The airport is now allowing transit for international passengers following the updated guidelines.
4. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata
From July 6 to August 31, Kolkata airport had banned flights from six high-risk states- Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, and Chennai. Also, the West Bengal government has recently extended the lockdown in the state’s containment zones. Complete shutdown has been announced in the state on September 7, 11 and 12. Flights will remain suspended on these three days. As notified on Kolkata airport’s official Twitter account, the airport has received many international passengers from countries like Oman, Bhutan, Dubai and Kuwait. As per AAI reports, the airport had received 3,96,668 fliers from April to June.
5. Chennai International Airport
Chennai airport has seen a drastic plunge in the number of flyers from 55,60,851 in last year to just 1,90,047 passengers for the April-June period, as per AAI data. The airport has updated passengers and flight numbers for individual days post lockdown. For August 24, it has operated a total of 81 flights & a total of 8,067 passengers. On August 29, the airport facilitated 78 flights and 8,906 passengers. Recently, the airport operated to and fro flights for international destinations like Jeddah, London, Chicago, Doha, Kuwait, Muscat, Sharjah, USA and Dubai.
If you’re travelling by flight now, ensure to follow every protocol of safety and social distancing. Also, many flights have mandated web check-ins. Wear a mask and carry a sanitizer and wipe off the chair surfaces before sitting on them. Meanwhile, here’s a first-hand flight experience from Mumbai to Delhi during COVID-19 outbreak: