- Battered by the pandemic, the airline industry is slowly coming back to normalcy
- The resumption of normal overseas flights is expected to provide a fillip to the sector
- Delhi airport expects international flight departures to witness a significant jump in April
After a coronavirus pandemic-induced hiatus of over two years, regular international flights resumed from Sunday with airports and airlines getting ready for normal overseas operations. Battered by the pandemic, the airline industry is slowly coming back to normalcy and the resumption of normal overseas flights is expected to provide a fillip to the sector.
The Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in the national capital, which is also the country's largest airport, expects international flight departures to witness a significant jump in the first week of April after the resumption of regular international operations.
While Indian carriers are prepared for normal international services, various foreign airlines, including Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and LOT Polish have also announced plans about their services to and from India.
As many as 60 airlines from 40 countries have been permitted to operate 1,783 frequencies to/from India during the summer schedule, according to DGCA.
The summer schedule will be effective from March 27 till October 29.
A total of 1,466 international departures per week have been approved for six Indian carriers for the summer schedule. They will operate to 43 destinations in 27 countries, as per the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Scheduled international passenger flights have remained suspended since March 23, 2020, in the wake of the pandemic and they will now restart from Sunday.
Overseas flights are being operated now under bilateral air bubble arrangements with various countries.
On March 8, the civil aviation ministry announced that regular overseas flights will resume from March 27 amid a decline in coronavirus cases.
The government has also revised the COVID guidelines for international flight operations, including the removal of the requirement to keep three seats vacant on overseas flights for medical emergencies.
Besides, the requirement for the crew for having a complete PPE kit has been done away with.
In a statement on Saturday, IndiGo Chief Commercial Officer Willy Boulter said the airline is keen on resuming international operations back to pre-COVID levels but that will also depend on factors like arrival guidelines of various countries.
"We certainly have plans to open new destinations in the near future, as well as pump up capacity on our existing routes as travel further, opens up. Reaching economies of scale in such a dynamic environment where ATF and other fixed costs are constantly going up, becomes challenging," he said.
On Friday, a DIAL spokesperson said, "Post resumption of commercial operations, South East Asia and Europe are expected to be the main drivers of further international passenger growth".
DIAL, the operator of IGIA, expects to connect to over 60 international destinations after the resumption of regular overseas flights.
IGIA is the country's largest airport and handled around 1.8 lakh passengers per day during pre-COVID times.
The spokesperson had also said the number of international Air Traffic Movements (ATMs) is likely to increase from 165 per day to 300 per day in summer 2022.
(With inputs from agencies)