Covid: Vaccination campaign, burglary in Covid cases help domestic air travel soar

MUMBAI: Demand for domestic flights rose steadily around the world until August, when concerns about the Covid-19 Delta variant reversed the trend in countries like China, the United States, Japan, Australia, and Brazil. In India, on the other hand, domestic transport demand has risen steadily since June due to vaccination campaigns and a decline in Covid cases, according to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global airlines’ trade organization.
In India, the surge had resumed in June after the huge drop seen from April to May during the second wave of Covid, making India’s domestic air traffic demand the worst in the world. Domestic air traffic demand (measured in passenger kilometers: number of kilometers flown by all passengers) was lowest in May. Compared to the pre-Covid month of May 2019, it fell by 71%, IATA data showed. Only Japan, with a 68.5% drop in demand compared to May 2019, was close.
Other countries fared significantly better this month. The US saw only a 26% decrease in domestic flight demand in May 2021 compared to May 2019, while it was 30% for Australia and 44% for Brazil. Countries like Russia and China saw domestic travel demand growth of 23% and 6%, respectively, compared to May 2019.
But India caught up in August. Amid fears about the Delta option, domestic travel demand declined in most countries around the world this month. The global decline in domestic travel demand was 32% in August 2021 compared to August 2019. In the previous month it was only 16% lower than in July 2019, according to the IATA report.
On the other hand, domestic travel demand in India decreased by 60% in July 2021 compared to 2019. The percentage drop decreased over the next month, down 45% in August 2021 from 2019. “India’s domestic traffic reversed the August trend … due to positive trends in new cases and vaccinations,” it said. Domestic passenger traffic at Mumbai Airport reached 1.4 million in August, which the airport handled in March.
Domestic passenger traffic at Delhi Airport peaked in March with 2.9 million passengers and the airport almost hit that figure in August with 2.6 million passengers.