Domestic carriers in India have reported a drop of 10-12% in domestic flight bookings in the last two weeks as travel restrictions are placed by many states due to rising cases of coronavirus.
This comes after the states like Rajasthan, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Manipur, West Bengal, and Delhi make RT-PCR (Covid-19) tests mandatory for travellers arriving from certain states with high coronavirus cases.
The Odisha government on Friday also made seven-day home isolation mandatory for travelers coming from 12 high-risk states by flights and trains.
“Last-minute bookings are not taking place. Inbound loads have dropped to cities where RT-PCR tests have been made compulsory,” a senior executive of a private airline told Business Standard.
An executive of another airline said the impact is around 20 percent.
Seat occupancy at Mumbai airport has also declined from around 70-72 percent to 60-64 percent in the last three-four days as passengers are postponing or cancelling trips, the report said.
Despite a dip in traffic, travel booking websites are optimistic about a revival.
“Leisure and VFR segments have picked up and are now at 70-80 percent of pre-COVID levels. However, corporate bookings are still at 15-20 percent. There’s a further impact on bookings in the business travel segment due to RT PCR restrictions and we have seen a 10 percent decline in volumes in metro markets. But the dip in bookings is small and we feel business will recover soon,” said Sabina Chopra, co-founder and chief operating officer (corporate travel), Yatra.com, as per the report.
It must be noted that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, India on Friday (26 February 2021) extends the suspension of regular international flights to and from India till 11.59 pm on 31st March 2021.
It is worth mentioning that all scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic, special flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat mission since May and under air bubble arrangements since July.
So far, India has signed the air bubble agreement with a total of 27 countries which includes Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and United States of America.
Under the Vande Bharat Mission and Air Bubbles, Indians can travel to more than 100 countries by taking connecting flights.