NEW DELHI: After rising sharply from second Covid-19 wave, domestic air passenger traffic plummeted by 42-43% at 64 lakh in January 2022, compared to 112 lakh in December 2021, according to data issued by credit rating agency ICRA. The sharp fall is attributed to the third wave of pandemic, Omicron, and the resultant restrictions.
The air traffic last month was also 17% lower than January 2021 when passenger traffic stood at 77 lakh.
Suprio Banerjee, Vice President & Sector Head, ICRA, said, “The sequential recovery slumped in January 2022 with the emergence of the new variant (Omicron) and related restrictions impacting leisure travel segment along with existing subdued demand from the corporate traveller segment. The same is also reflected as passenger traffic for 10M FY2022 remained 45% lower than 10M FY2020 (pre-Covid level).”
Even as Covid cases have slowed down in recent weeks, Omicron is expected to have a severe impact on airlines’ operations and earnings in the final quarter of FY22. “The emergence of the new Covid variant and reactionary air travel restrictions will keep the recovery prospects subdued for the domestic airlines sector in the current quarter,” said Banerjee.
Even India’s largest airline IndiGo last week indicated that there could be some impact of Omicron in Q4FY22 as passenger numbers declined for the first two weeks into January.