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Flight patterns change in first 100 days of flying

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on September 09, 2020 Published on September 09, 2020

Bengaluru airport has emerged as the second busiest airport after Delhi in the last 100 days   -  Somashekar GRN

Flights to Patna from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru zoom

The first 100 days since domestic flying restarted has changed the aviation landscape in the country both in terms of the destinations and airport rankings.

Flyers from the three metros Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi are making a beeline for Patna making the Mumbai-Patna, Bengaluru-Patna and Delhi-Patna air route among the top-five busiest routes for the three airports.

Before the lockdown, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa were the top five destinations with the highest passenger load factor for Mumbai airport. Metros routes were also the most popular among flyers from Delhi.

However, during the 100 days since flights restarted, Mumbai airport has reported that 60,116 passengers travelled between Mumbai and Patna making it the third busiest route for the airport. The trend started early with the airport reporting on May 31 that the highest passenger load capacity was seen on the Patna route departing from Mumbai airport.

Similarly, Bengaluru airport reported that about 6 per cent of the passengers who flew out of the metro were headed to Patna making it the third busiest route for Bengaluru airport as well. This is a jump of almost 10 spots as before the pandemic Bengaluru-Patna was the 13-14th busiest route for the airport. For Delhi airport, Delhi-Patna has been the second busiest routes during the first 100 days of flights restarting.

Srinagar is a new entrant to the top-five most travelled routes from Delhi.

Bengaluru, 2nd busiest

In another change, while Delhi remains the busiest airport in the country, Bengaluru airport has replaced Mumbai airport as the second busiest airport in the country.

This is largely because the Maharashtra government initially allowed only 25 arrivals and 25 departures when flights restarted on May 25. This was increased to 100 arrivals and 100 departures from September 1 but that is still much lower than the 300 flights a day that Bengaluru airport is handling.

There are various reasons for Patna becoming a popular flight destination. A spokesperson for Bengaluru International Airport Ltd (BIAL) says that this jump in traffic is because passengers eager to get back to the eastern region are flying to Patna and then finding their way to neighbouring States, some of which had limited or inconsistent connectivity during the pandemic.

For example, the West Bengal government did not accept too many flights when domestic flying resumed. In June, the West Bengal government banned flights from six cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai and Ahmedabad initially till July 31, which was later extended.

Data shared by Mumbai airport shows that during the 100 first days, 60,116 passengers flew between Mumbai and Patna while 37,385 flew between Mumbai and Kolkata.

BIAL officials add that with construction activity coming to a halt in and around Bengaluru during the lockdown, people wanted to get back home. With no normal train or bus services, flying was the only option for those who could afford it. Now with construction activity resuming people are moving in the reverse direction — from Patna to Bengaluru.

Nishant Pitti, co-founder of online travel agency, easemytrip, gives another reason for the increased traffic to Patna.

“Most of the people flying to Patna from the metros are household workers or people who had come to the metros looking for work; they returned to their families,” he said.

With the government capping domestic airfares many employees were not only willing to buy tickets to send their workers back but are also paying for their return tickets to bring them back now that lockdown restrictions are being eased.

In March a Bengaluru-Patna flight on average cost ₹5,298 which came down to ₹4,228 in August. Similarly, a Mumbai-Patna flight cost ₹5,680 and came down to ₹4,592 in August.

However, there has been no change in destinations for those flying out of Hyderabad as Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai remain the top five destinations for flyers in these 100 days, a spokesperson of Hyderabad airport said.

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Published on September 09, 2020
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