Tier-2 city air travel has shown an exponential rise, according to data from ixigo. The maximum increase in departures has been recorded from Bagdogra-New Delhi (1,000 per cent uptick), Cochin-Bengaluru (250 per cent), and Visakhapatnam-Bengaluru and Lucknow-Bengaluru (230 per cent), respectively.

With the increase in UDAN routes, places such as Bagdogra, Kochi, Visakhapatnam, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati have seen a surge in both business and leisure travel. . 

Both regional and national carriers have deployed their fleet on these destinations as the numbers rise. 

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“Thanks to the introduction of new airports and the UDAN scheme, Tier-2 is growing much faster than Tier-1. Covid impacted Tier-1 flight travel more than it affected Tier-2 & 3. As trains were not operational and flights were considered a safer mode of transport, even by train travellers, the move to airline booking actually accelerated during Covid,” the company said. 

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On a year-on-year basis, departures between New Delhi and Bagdogra have increased by a whopping 1,008.1 per cent. Low-cost carriers such as SpiceJet, GoFirst and Akasa operate on this route. Bagdogra connects to Darjeeling and other neighbouring tourist destinations.

Cochin-Bengaluru and Visakhapatnam-Bengaluru, too, have seen a 246.6 per cent and 237 per cent increase in departures on a year-on-year basis. Both these destinations are important from a leisure as well as a business travel perspective, according to industry experts. 

Among other routes that have seen an uptick in departures are Lucknow-Bengaluru, which recorded a 142.7 per cent uptick, while the Visakhapatnam-Hyderabad route witnessed a 137.8 per cent surge. The Bhubaneswar-Mumbai route witnessed an uptick of 129.3 per cent. Lucknow and Mumbai recorded a 110.2 per cent surge in departures, while the Guwahati and Bengaluru route, too, saw an uptick of 102.9 per cent. 

However, in terms of absolute volumes, the top three cities are  Patna, Lucknow and Visakhapatnam. 

ixigo’s data also showed that over the past five years, there has been a steady uptick in footfalls in the tier-2 segment, compared to the tier-1 segment. In 2015, the passenger footfalls in tier-2 cities was 29 per cent, and 36 per cent in FY23. 

“Even if you look at the DGCA stats and pull out data for the top eight metro passenger footfalls versus tier-2 cities, you will clearly see Covid has accelerated that,” it added.