Passenger traffic at airports in tier 2, 3 cities higher than pre-COVID levels: IATA

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Bengaluru, Feb 3 (PTI) Passenger traffic at airports in tier 2 and 3 cities of the country is higher than pre-COVID levels, a senior official of global airlines body IATA said on Wednesday.

'In domestic, we have seen a strong expansion in new destinations and the deployment of new flights. Unused and under utilised airports in India are starting to see additional passenger activity,' Amitabh Khosla, country director of International Air Transport Association (IATA) said during a seminar at Aero India 2021.

India resumed its scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25, 2020 after keeping them suspended for a period of two months due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

'Airline networks themselves are in the state of transition. Post restart, we have seen a growing number of tier-2 and tier-3 cities where the traffic at the airports is higher than it was during the pre-COVID levels,' Khosla said.

The IATA has around 290 airlines as its members.

Khosla said airlines are expected to get one-third of the revenues from air cargo this year as compared to 12 per cent in 2019.

While global passenger traffic is expected to come to pre-pandemic level only in 2024, the air cargo traffic is expected to reach pre-COVID level by March 2021, Khosla mentioned. A press release by IATA said global air cargo demand decreased by 10.6 per cent in 2020 as compared to 2019.

'This was the largest drop in year-on-year demand since IATA started to monitor cargo performance in 1990, outpacing the 6 per cent fall in global trade in goods,' the release said.

Schedule international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, special international flights have been operating since May last year under Vande Bharat Mission and air bubble arrangements found with various countries. PTI DSP RHL