Tirupati: Air passenger traffic continues to rise amid pandemic
- From 916 passengers in May, the number has risen to 22,322 in Sept at Tirupati airport
- Still, compared to the same period in the previous year, there is a huge drop in footfall and operations
- Airlines are giving masks and sanitisers to travellers and PPE kit to non-family middle seat passengers
Tirupati: The passenger footfall at Tirupati airport has been rising gradually month after month after the lifting of travel curbs on flight services. The opening of Lord Venkateswara temple allowing limited number of devotees daily for darshan also helped airlines to increase their passengers to the pilgrim city.
The airport was closed for operations in the last week of March 2020 due to which the number of passengers travelled through it has dropped from 72,875 in February 2020 to 44,575 in March. According to the Airports Authority of India traffic data, from zero passengers and zero flight movements in April due to lockdown, the numbers witnessed steady growth from May.
From 916 passengers in May, it has gone up to 6,840 in June, 11,093 in July, 18,108 in August and 22,322 in September. Accordingly, the number of flight movements increased from 18 in May to 178 in June, 248 in July, 288 in August and 350 in September. Though the growth was very substantial compared to the corresponding period in the previous year, the authorities were saying that it is a good improvement.
For instance, there was a change of -90.2 per cent in number of passengers during April to August 2020-21 compared to the same period in 2019-20. In 2019-20 the total number of passengers travelled through the airport were 3,76,550 while it has come down to 36,875 during the same months in 2020-21. Similarly, the number of aircraft movements has come down to 692 from 4,742 during the same period.
Commenting on the present situation, airport director S Suresh told The Hans India that soon after the darshan of Lord Venkateswara was opened in Tirumala, passenger traffic started increasing. Most of the passenger profile was for Tirumala darshan only now. There may be further growth once the industries and the educational institutions start functioning in a full-fledged manner, he said.
To a question, Suresh said that all precautions were being taken during the pandemic. The airlines are giving masks and sanitisers to every passenger and PPE kits for non-family middle seat passengers, which is mandatory for them to wear throughout the journey. As of now Air India, SpiceJet and Indigo are operating their services to Delhi, Visakhapatnam, Mumbai and Hyderabad.