The passenger traffic at Kempegowda International Airport here (KIAB/BLR Airport) nosedived 66 per cent in the financial year 2020-21, with the COVID-19 pandemic dealing a major blow. During 2020-21, BLR Airport welcomed only 10.91 million passengers since domestic air travel resumed in India on May 25, 2020, following a two-month suspension, compared to 32.3 million passengers in the previous financial year.
The airport said in a statement on Friday that 10.45 million passengers flew domestic routes, recording a 63 per cent drop, as compared to 27 million in 2019-20. International routes witnessed four million passengers in 2019-20 which declined substantially to 0.46 million in 2020-21, down 90 per cent. This is mainly attributed to the continued suspension of international flights and COVID-19 restrictions across the globe.
After showing signs of recovery during the middle of the fiscal year, the traffic dropped significantly due to the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in India, beginning February 2021, the statement said. The reduced slots for airlines at airports driven by DGCA guidelines, too, added to the lowered numbers. Air Traffic Movements (ATMs) dropped by 50 per cent to 113,993 from 231,051 in 2019-20. While domestic movements reduced by 49 per cent at 102,801, international traffic saw 11,192 movements, lower by 61 per cent in the last 311 days of operations.
However, the subdued environment due to the pandemic had a marginal impact on cargo operations. The cargo processed during 2020-21 was 326,643 Metric Tonnes (MT), 12.70 per cent short of last fiscals 374,181 MT. BLR airport was the only major airport in the country to reach 100 per cent of the previous year's tonnage on a year-on-year basis from September 2020 through January 2021, it said.
In March, it regained momentum, recording 34,401 MT - the highest in the last 31 months. Overall, domestic tonnage was 119,125 MT, 20 per cent short of last year's tonnage, while international was 207,518 MT, seven per cent short of the previous financial year.
Due to the sharp drop in passenger volumes, BLR airport has suffered a "significant decline" in revenue, it said. "Despite the crisis, BIAL (Bangalore International Airport Limited) is firmly committed to completing all the capital expenditure projects that are currently underway", the statement said.