Air travel, which was most affected by the pandemic, has seen the number of Indians taking flights exceed pre-Covid levels, according to a review of the Indian economy by the Department of Economic Affairs. This positive trend comes in the backdrop of airport infrastructure expansion and the UDAN scheme, according to the Finance Ministry report.

“In terms of mobility, which was most affected by the pandemic, the number of Indians taking air travel has exceeded pre-Covid levels,” according to the report.

According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, on November 19, airlines in India flew 456,910 domestic passengers. This marked the highest single-day air traffic since the pandemic hit, representing a remarkable 7.4 per cent surge above pre-Covid averages — a clear sign of recovery and resilience in the skies.

Speaking at the inaugural session of Wings India 2024 earlier this month, Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the number of domestic passengers in India is expected to surge to 300 million annually by 2030, up from 153 million in 2023.

The report stated that “new airports/air routes (UDAN), among others, have enabled the modernisation of infrastructure”.

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According to the latest data, based on five rounds of bidding under the UDAN scheme, 517 routes have commenced operations, connecting 76 airports, including nine heliports and two water aerodromes. Additionally, more than 130 city pairs have been created due to the commencement of UDAN flights. 2.47 lakh flights have operated under the UDAN scheme so far, carrying more than 130 lakh passengers.

According to the report, ‘The Indian Economy: A Review,’ published by the Department of Economic Affairs, there have been multiple strides in easing mobility, including the total length of highways, freight corridors, the number of airports, and metro rail networks. The ramp-up of physical and digital infrastructure in the last ten years is real, tangible, and transformative. “India built 74 airports in the first 67 years after independence. It doubled that number in the last nine years. The government is building a road network and expanding rail and air networks at a record pace,” it said.

Ayodhya airport

The Ayodhya airport was built from scratch in no time. Along with this, the government of India has so far accorded ‘in-principle’ approval for setting up 21 Greenfield Airports across the country. Of these, 12 greenfield airports have been operationalised. Besides this, more than 91 lakh passengers availed the facility of Digi Yatra, a project conceived to achieve contactless, seamless processing of passengers at airports based on Facial Recognition Technology (FRT). Over 35 lakh users downloaded the app in 2023.