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Airports choke, and passengers suffer as air passenger traffic slowly comes back to pre-pandemic level

Aviation was one of the sectors which suffered an immense loss due to the global pandemic, but the gloom seems to be over now as the domestic carriers flew more than 4 lakh passengers for two consecutive days. The daily average passenger number was more than 4 lakh pre-pandemic.

The average passenger number is around 3.70 lakh and is expected to rise due to the upcoming festive and holiday season. Mumbai International Airport, the world’s busiest single-runway airport handled record passenger movement with 150,988 travelers transiting through it on 10 December. Delhi airport, the other of the nation’s major airports is at 70-80% of the pre-pandemic level.

This is resulting in capacity constraints, congestion, and inconvenience to passengers throughout India as the authorities and airport administrations seem to be lacking in their preparedness. Flyers have flooded social media with complaints of long serpentine queues at the check-in counter, immigration, and security checks resulting in delays and missing flights.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has come up with various guidelines to ease the congestion part of it being that airports and airlines must reduce the number of flights during peak hours between 5 am and 9 am. Other instructions include compulsory manning of all check-in counters by airlines, additional deployment of personnel for immigration counters, etc.

According to experts, these steps are superficial in the long run with the real problem being the under-capacity of airports and the bunching of flights during peak hours. Experts have called for fresh capacity creation through the creation of new greenfield airports across major Indian cities.

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