Air passenger traffic and aircraft movements is expected to reach the pre-COVID-19 level by early 2021, the annual pre-budget Economic Survey 2021 released on January 29 has said.
The survey said the Indian aviation market was among the biggest in the world and domestic airlines had begun to see a recovery in passenger traffic.
"Despite the severe challenges posed by COVID-19, the Indian aviation industry has persevered through the crisis and demonstrated long-term resilience and full commitment to serve," the survey, which was tabled in Parliament, said.
After being suspended in late March 2020, domestic flights resumed services in May and later in the year, travel corridors were created with some countries to resume operations.
The survey made a special mention of the Vande Bharat Mission, the repatriation exercise that was launched on May 7 to evacuate stranded Indians from across the world.
"It has thus reported over 30 lakhs passenger arrivals by 13 December 2020,
with over 27 lakhs facilitated through chartered flights and Air India Group, making it the largest evacuation mission in human history," the survey said.
Industry observers have questioned if the exercise should be called an "evacuation" as passengers paid fares for the tickets, and in many cases, they complained of high fares.
Later in the year, the government also entered into air-links or air transport bubble arrangements with 23 countries to facilitate the movement of passengers.
In December, air passenger traffic grew 14 percent sequentially.
"The aviation market of India is one of the fastest-growing in the world. India’s domestic traffic has more than doubled from around 61 million in FY14 to around 137 million in FY20, a growth of over 14 percent per annum. From the third-largest domestic aviation market, it is expected to become the third-largest overall (including domestic and international traffic) by the year FY25," the Survey said.