MUMBAI: The passenger traffic at the Mumbai airport is on a steady rise. From the 2.2 lakh domestic passengers the airport handled in June, the number has gone up to 6.5 lakh domestic passengers in September. The number of domestic flights handled went up from over 2,600 to about 6,600 during these three months, according to data released by the Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) on Friday.
On the international front, the passenger traffic went up from 38,000 passengers in June to 77,000 in September as the number of flights went up from 1640 in June to 1860 in September. One in every two international passenger flight that departed or arrived in Mumbai between June and September was bound for the Middle East.
While Middle Eastern flights have always been popular with Indians, what’s different here is that these flights were packed largely with passengers bound for the Middle East and not transit passengers who fly onwards to US, Europe, Africa as was the case in the pre-COVID times.
“The travel restrictions in place in the June-September quarter meant that Indian passport holders could largely do only point-to-point travel, that is, board only direct flights to their destinations. For those aching to go on international holidays then, Dubai emerged as a popular tourist destination,” said an airline official, requesting anonymity.
In comparison, only about one in four flights was operated to/from Europe in the said three month time period. It was followed by North America, Africa and Asia Pacific which had shares of 11%, 6% and 2% respectively, according to data released by Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL). The pandemic also brought about a number of direct flights to/from Mumbai to lesser-known destinations such as Lusaka (Zambia), Mombasa (Kenya), Tbilisi (Georgia), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Entebbe (Uganda), Chongqing (China) and Mattel (Sri Lanka) in the June-September time period.
Among top carriers was IndiGo, which flew the most passengers to the Middle East with 26,070 passengers on over 330 flights. Air India was the top carrier for flights to Europe and the North American market with over 15,550 passengers flown on about 98 flights to/from the North American market and over 21,110 passengers on about 170 fights to/from Europe.
“In the June-September period, the Mumbai airport handled over 7,150 international flights with over 21 international airlines flying approximately 2,49,320 international passengers to 26 destinations,” said MIAL. In the same period, the airport registered over 16,886 domestic flights with over 15,55,700 passengers flying to 53 destinations across the country on 10 domestic airlines.