ICRA. (Photo: ICRA). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, March 8 : Domestic air travel continued to accelerate in February 2021 with a sequential improvement of 1 per cent, said ratings agency ICRA.

However, the pace of growth slowed down for the second month in February 2021, with a sequential growth over January of 1 per cent to 78 lakh passengers.

On a YoY basis, the domestic passenger traffic declined by 37 per cent.

As per ICRA, the capacity deployment in February 2021 stood at 71 per cent vis-a-vis February 2020.

The capacity deployment is a significant increase of over the 59 per cent deployed in November 2020 and 67 per cent in December 2020.

In January, the deployment stood at 71 per cent.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) permitted increasing the capacity to 80 per cent with effect from December 3, 2020.

According to Kinjal Shah, Vice President, ICRA: "The number of flights departing has also gradually increased from 416 on Day 1 to 2,885 on Day 267 (February 14, 2021)." "The average number of passengers per flight during February 2021 was 121, against an average of 136 passengers per flight in February 2020. Thus, it is expected that the domestic aviation industry operated at a passenger load factor (PLF) of 78 per cent in February 2021, against 87.7 per cent in February 2020, that too on a low capacity." Further, Shah said the PLF for February 2021 was higher than the 73 per cent in January 2021, due to the decline in capacity deployment by 5 per cent.

"Overall, from May 25, 2020 till February 28, 2021, domestic passenger traffic has been pegged at 45.6 million." In terms of the aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices, ICRA said that following the pandemic, crude oil prices declined materially reaching a low of $19 per barrel in April 2020, thus leading to a decline in ATF prices.

In contrast, the crude oil prices have increased gradually since then, and currently ranges at around $69 per barrel.

Consequently, the ATF prices increased sequentially by 24.1 per cent in July 2020 and by 4.2 per cent in August 2020.

However, it declined sequentially by 3.4 per cent in September 2020 and by 5.6 per cent in October 2020, before increasing by 4.6 per cent in November 2020, by 9.1 per cent in December 2020, by 10.2 per cent in January 2021, by 5.4 per cent in February 2021, and by 10.4 per cent in March 2021.

Until February 2021, the ATF prices were still lower on a YoY basis, the March 2021 prices were higher by 3 per cent on a YoY basis.

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