VISAKHAPATNAM: Air traffic, which suffered a severe setback due to Covid pandemic, is limping back to normalcy in Visakhapatnam and is expected to reach the pre-Covid levels if the trend continues for the next three months. The international airport has witnessed a increase in the number of flights as well as passenger footfall.
In August, the monthly passenger footfall increased by 44,000. Airport director K Srinivasa Rai said on Monday that the Vizag airport registered 1.48 lakh footfall in August against 1.04 lakh in July and just 61,000 August last year. He said the primary reason for the spurt in the passengers is the increasing confidence of safe travel among people as Covid-19 cases in many parts of the country are declining.
The air traffic was on a recovery path after the decline of the Covid-19 first wave in November, 2020, and was expected to reach the pre-Covid levels by April. However, the footfall dipped sharply as a result of the second wave. In May and June, the airport recorded 45,726 and 64,732 footfalls, respectively.
The director said the airport first saw a significant rise in the footfall in 2015-2016 as it reported a 64 per cent yearly growth. The same year, there was a 113 per cent increase in the international passenger footfall, he said. He added in 2015-16 the airport hosted 18,06,838—16,85,22 domestic and 1,21,616 international—passengers against 10,97,638—10,40,635 domestic and 57,003 international—passengers the previous year.
The growth trajectory continued till 2018-19 when the total footfall touched 28,53,631 (27,03,261 domestic and 1,50,370 international). However, the air traffic fell by over 58 per cent in 2020-21 due to the pandemic. The number of footfalls stood at 11,14,643, including 11,06,451 domestic and 8,192 international passengers during the said period.
There has been a spurt in the number of flight movements also. While there were 30 to 36 flight movements daily in July it went up to 46 in August. Visakhapatnam is now connected to most of the domestic destinations, including Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Raipur and Port Blair.