Up, Up and Away: Traffic increased at almost all airports in India last fiscal - Hindustan Times
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Up, Up and Away: Traffic increased at almost all airports in India last fiscal

Apr 20, 2024 11:01 AM IST

At 18.9%, the highest growth came from Pune, but there were no changes in the positions amongst the top 10.

The state owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) declared its annual passenger numbers on Friday. While the regulator declares the passenger numbers based on the calendar year, the Airports Authority of India declares it on the basis of the financial year. The last fiscal was turbulent with Go FIRST shutting operations in May and IndiGo going through a very high number of aircraft groundings as it battled issues with Pratt & Whitney powered planes.

A Vistara passenger aircraft taxis on the tarmac at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. (Reuters file photo)
A Vistara passenger aircraft taxis on the tarmac at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. (Reuters file photo)

International growth has been healthy

The top 10 airports by international footfalls, which handle about 90% of international traffic from India, saw a healthy growth of 21% over the last financial year. Delhi - the largest airport in the country grew by 24.4% on the international side. At 28.5%, Ahmedabad recorded the highest growth amongst top 10 airports by international footfalls.

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The battle between Bengaluru and Kochi for the fourth position in international traffic is going to get close this year, with Bengaluru about 700 passengers per day short of Kochi to occupy the number four spot. Chennai so far remains firm at the third position.

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The battle between Bengaluru and Kochi for the fourth position in international traffic is going to get close this year.
The battle between Bengaluru and Kochi for the fourth position in international traffic is going to get close this year.

Go FIRST’s fall overcome at metros

The top 10 airports in the country by domestic footfalls grew at an average of 11% with Goa - Dabolim shrinking by 18% as traffic was split with Mopa and overall Gpa saw more traffic than before.

At 18.9%, the highest growth came from Pune, but there were no changes in the positions amongst the top 10. Bengaluru’s growth was slowed down due to sudden availability of capacity at Mumbai and airlines opting for growth at Mumbai over Bengaluru. As it stands, Bengaluru is around 15,000 passengers per day short of Mumbai when it comes to domestic footfalls.

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India continues to be a country largely driven by the top 10 airports.
India continues to be a country largely driven by the top 10 airports.
A lot of religious and tourist destinations saw growth.
A lot of religious and tourist destinations saw growth.

The extremes

While overall the international footfalls were up 22.3%, the domestic footfalls were up 13.5% and the combined footfalls were up 15%, there still remained few airports which recorded lesser traffic in FY24, as compared to the previous year. Kushinagar shrunk by 23% as its sole operator SpiceJet abandoned services. Kannur saw a drop of 6.3% largely due to Go FIRST’s fall as it had a significant chunk of international services from Kannur. Shirdi saw a nominal fall of 1%. Goa’s Dabolim airport saw a fall of 17.8% in traffic numbers but this was due to operationalising of MIA at Mopa which saw a bumper jump in traffic. Overall the two airports at Goa are handling more passengers than what the single airport did in the past.

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While a lot of religious and tourist destinations saw growth, Tirupati saw a decline in traffic of 5% while Srinagar, Jammu and Leh, largely driven by the fall of Go FIRST, shrunk by 4.6%, 7.8% and 14% respectively.

Go FIRST’s woes were not the only ones which impacted airports. Darbhanga and Jabalpur also shrunk and it was on the receiving end of SpiceJet’s reduction in services. Darbhanga saw a drop of 14.3% while Jabalpur saw 24% fewer passengers and Pondycherry with a 40% drop. SpiceJet has now withdrawn from Pondycherry.

The drop at Bikaner, Porbandar, Kalaburagi, Pakyong, Tezu, Gondia, Sindhudurg and Pasighat also saw a sharp drop but these numbers are on very low base as most handled just one flight a day or at times not even a daily flight.

On the other hand, for similar reasons there are airports which have recorded exceptional growth. This includes Nashik (125%), Ludhiana (401%), MIA - Mopa (563%).

Tail Note

India continues to be a country largely driven by the top 10 airports, though traffic is shifting from the major metros to Tier II and Tier III cities. Last financial year, the top 10 airports by international traffic saw 90% of total international footfalls being serviced by them. On the domestic side, the top 10 airports saw 66.7% of footfalls while combined the number stood at 71% for the top 10 airports in the country.

Ameya Joshi is an aviation analyst.

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