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TIRUPATI: Passenger traffic at Tirupati international airport is gradually gaining momentum coinciding with the overall decline in Covid-19 positive cases and easing of curbs by most states. At least 16 flights have reported a 30 per cent increase in occupancy.

According to the traffic report of Airports Authority of India's (AAI), domestic passenger traffic rose to 16,947 in June from 6,698 in May. Accordingly, the number of flights operating rose to 242 last month from the 228 in May.

In all, the airport registered a 44 per cent increase in domestic aircraft movement on a year-on-year basis.  In June last year, 168 flights had operated from there. 

Compared to last year, there was a significant improvement this year as there were no restrictions on flight movements during the curfew period. The number of flights operated in May last year stood at 18 with only 916 passenger footfalls.

In 2020 June, the figure stood at 168 aircraft and 6,811 fliers; July - 228 flights and 11,040 footfalls; August - 278 and 18,108 footfalls and September - 310 and 22,322 footfalls. The passenger traffic rose steadily from 916 in May last year to 58,029 this January and reached a peak in March with 65,110 fliers and 855 flights.

However, the Covid second wave impacted air traffic business and Tirupati airport recorded a steep fall in passenger traffic. In April this year, the airport witnessed only 37,634 fliers, which in May was even more dismal at 6,698. Flight movements declined from 855 in March to 702 in April, 228 in May and 242 in June.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Tirupati airport director S. Suresh said that the passenger footfall has been rising consistently since the Covid-19 graph started showing a downward trend.

'With the nod for darshan at the main temple, our airport has been witnessing an encouraging passenger patronage. , industrial activities in this region have picked up pace and it has helped airlines operating on this route', he added.

He said that domestic cargo services may resume in the second week of August and the staff, who were under training, will be inducted into services as soon as Domestic Air Cargo Terminal (DACT) becomes operational.
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