After a lull, Tirupati Airport sees more traffic

Tirupati Airport handled 5.45 lakh passengers in April-February 2021-22, as against 2.87 lakh in 2020–21

TIRUPATI: When the Covid-19 pandemic hit two years ago, Tirupati Airport ended up being the worst hit in Andhra Pradesh, as passenger traffic came down to 57.8 per cent followed by 52.4 per cent in FY 2020–21.

In the past 11 months, however, the temple city’s airport has seen remarkable recovery. It has become quite busy, thanks to TTD lifting all restrictions on Tirumala darshan and significant growth in industrial activities in this region.

Between April-February 2022, domestic passenger footfall and aircraft movement at Tirupati Airport grew 89.8 percent and 94.3 percent, respectively, according to the traffic data shared by Airports Authority of India (AAI).

However, that was not the case in FY 2020-21. Between April-March 2019-20, the airport’s domestic passenger footfall was 8,34,961 and aircraft movement was 9,698, whereas it was just 3,53,375 and 4,612, respectively during the same period in FY 2020-21. This means the year-on-year passenger volume and aircraft movement dropped 57.8 percent and 52.4 percent respectively in the FY 2020-21.

AAI traffic data shows that Tirupati Airport handled 5,45,251 domestic passengers in April-February 2021–22, as against 2,87,265 in April-February 2020–21. Similarly, flight movements have gone up to 7.298, as against 3.757 during the same period. Last month, the airport handled 59,507 domestic passengers and 680 flights, as against 59,528 passengers and 655 aircrafts in the same corresponding month last year.

“There has been a significant rise in demand for flights to Tirupati after the resumption of all kinds of darshan at Tirumala. Travel agencies are of the view that passenger footfall may reach the pre-Covid stage in the coming fiscal, as industrial activities in region have also picked up pace and have been reaching pre-Covid levels,” an airport official said.

Meanwhile, the other two major airports in the state – Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, have fared well too. Between April-February 2021-22, Visakhapatnam Airport handled 14,34,456 domestic passengers versus 9,66,703 passengers during the same period in FY 2020-21, a 48.4 percent year-on-year growth. Vijayawada Airport handled 5,09,782 passengers versus 3,72,364 in FY 2020–21, a 36.9 percent year-on-year growth.

However, no airport is close to pre-Covid numbers. For instance, the Vizag Airport handled 25,37,718 passengers in April-March 2019–20, whereas in April-March 2020–21, the airport saw only 11,05,932 passengers. Similarly, Vijayawada Airport’s domestic passenger footfall was 11,25,531 in 2019–20, as against 4,34,737 in 2020–21.

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