Logistics

Chennai airport handles over 36,000 passengers since its re-opening

T E Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on June 12, 2020 Published on June 12, 2020

File photo   -  Bijoy Ghosh

Since its re-opening for passengers, on May 25, the Chennai airport has handled a total of 36,833 passengers with 423 flight movements in the first ten days.

Although the number is low, aviation experts feel the trends indicate that people are willing to travel by air, and that more flights should be handled at the airport.

The initial five days saw the functioning of 203 flights with 15,722 passengers travelling by them. But, in the second-half, the flight movements increased to 220 with 21,161 passengers - an increase of nearly 35 per cent in passenger travel.

On an average, about 80 passengers were carried per flight, according to data provided by the Airports Authority of India, Chennai.

The Tamil Nadu government, on May 24, gave its nod for domestic flight operations in the State. However, it had fixed the limit on landing - only 25 flights per day - as a measure to contain coronavirus.

“We have already made a plea through a webinar organised by the tourism commissioner, that Tamil Nadu must increase the daily flights,” said Sudhakar Reddy, President, Air Passengers Association of India.

The load factors will slowly increase as confidence is built in to the minds of passengers. The fare structure dictated by the Ministry is also a factor for low load. Fares must be left to market forces. The fares are high in some sectors to the extent of 25 to 40 per cent when compared to January/February, he said.

Expressing a similar view, B Govindarajan, Chief Operating Officer of the city-based aviation consultancy firm Tirwin Management Services (P) Ltd said that people are aware that air travel is the most safe. This understanding is evident from the increasing number of passengers registered at Chennai airport.

But what is inhibiting is the complicated protocols and lack of flights. When more and more start travelling by air, the fear will vanish, he added.

People are worried about the screening and quarantine protocols and the associated ordeals. No doubt governments should establish protocols to ensure safety but it should also facilitate, seed in confidence and encourage people to travel by air. The protocols or Standard Operating Procedures are not harmonised and not aligned to meet the intent, said Govindarajan, a frequent flyer.

User-friendly protocols supported by additional capacity between ‘city pairs’ will pave the way for more people to travel and that in turn would put the country on an accelerated economic recovery path, he said.

Air travellers on social media have been requesting the AAI Chenai allow more flights to places like Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad.

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Published on June 12, 2020
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