Air passenger traffic, aircraft movements predicted to reach pre-COVID levels in early 2021

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New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) Air passenger traffic and aircraft movements are predicted to reach pre-COVID levels in early 2021, according to the Economic Survey 2020-21 released on Friday.

Indian carriers added 44 aircraft in April-November period last year despite the coronavirus-induced crisis, the survey showed, taking the total number of planes with them to 713.

'From the third largest domestic aviation market, it (Indian aviation market) is expected to become the third largest overall (including domestic and international traffic) by the year FY25,' the survey noted.

Despite the severe challenges posed by COVID-19, the Indian aviation industry has persevered through the crisis and demonstrated long-term resilience and full commitment to serve, it said. India resumed scheduled domestic flights on May 25, 2020, after suspending them for a period of two months due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. But special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral 'air bubble' arrangements with selected countries since July.

India has formed air bubble pacts with around 23 countries, including the US, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, Bhutan and France. Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories. PTI DSP KJ