The city airport registered the highest-ever growth in international traffic in 2019, riding a record addition in international flights from the city by Indian carriers keen to spread their wings. The growth in domestic traffic movement was, however, modest.
A day after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) released statistics on nationwide air traffic that reflected the twin impacts of a subdued economy and Jet Airways’ grounding, Kolkata airport reported a 13% surge in international passengers during the year. While 27 lakh international passengers travelled through Kolkata airport in 2018, the count increased to nearly 31 lakh in 2019.
The rate of growth of domestic passengers was, however, much lower at 4% with traffic up from from 1.9 crore to just shy of the 2-crore mark.
According to airport officials, the growth in international passengers was driven primarily by addition of overseas flights in 2019. The number of international flights jumped from 22,423 to 24,579, a 10% rise. A bulk of the new fights was added by IndiGo that extended routes to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kathmandu and Yangon.
Bankruptcy of Jet Airways in April 2019 that led to the grounding of its flights dealt a blow to the industry. But the impact on Kolkata was much less than that on other major airports as the airline did not operate any international flight and only a handful domestic ones from Kolkata, when it went out of business.
In fact, the airport clocked 7,159 more domestic flight movements in 2019 than the year before, an increase of 4.5%. In all, domestic flight movements went up from 1.6 lakh to 1.7 lakh.
Overall, Kolkata airporthandled 2.3 crore passengers in 2019, up from 2.2 crore flyers in 2018. Flight movements went up from 1.8 lakh to 1.9 lakh.
“We have been experiencing double-digit growth for the past few years but the turbulence caused by multiple factors led to Kolkata airport recording 4% passenger growth against the projected 8%. However, 2020 should be a better year with growth back on track,” said Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee.
In the 2018-19 financial year, passenger traffic at the airport had grown by 10% to hit nearly 2.2 crore, 20 lakh more than that in 2017-18. But the growth slowed down from 26% in 2017-18 to 10% in 2018-19 as Jet Airways pulled out flights through the year, impacting numbers. This was the lowest growth in the last three years. When the figures for 2019-2020 emerge, growth is likely to be lower still. The airport had recorded a growth of 24% in 2016-17 and 14% in 2015-16.
Source: Times of India