International passenger traffic has registered a steady improvement in the last three months and reached 79% of pre-Covid levels (similar period in the financial year 2019-20) in June 2022, according to rating agency ICRA.

On a month-on-month basis, international passenger traffic witnessed an 8% growth in June at 4.4 million, ICRA says, adding the air traffic is expected to reach 90-92% of pre-Covid levels by the end of FY23.

International passenger traffic had reached 63% of the pre-Covid-19 level in April 2022, while in May it stood at 72% of the pre-pandemic level, the report says.

Meanwhile, the recovery in domestic passenger traffic declined marginally to 91% of pre-Covid levels in June 2022 (21.1 million) as compared with 98% in April and May 2022.

The domestic passenger traffic witnessed a month-on-month decline of 7% in June 2022 in line with historic trends of June each year due to end of summer vacation, reopening of schools, which results in lower leisure travel as compared to May.

"The recovery in domestic passenger traffic was strong post the dip in traffic due to Omicron supported by the easing of travel restrictions norms and resilient passenger demand," it adds.

Overall, the passenger traffic stood at 88% of pre-Covid levels in June 2022. Supported by the passenger traffic, the aircraft traffic stood at 96-99% of pre-Covid levels during April-June 2022.

ICRA, in its recent report, expects aircraft traffic to display a 45-47% year-on-year growth and to reach pre-Covid levels during FY23.

"The steep ramp-up in international traffic during the last three months is supported by opening of major international destinations, easing of travel restrictions and increase in aircraft capacity deployment. Overall, ICRA expects international passenger traffic to reach 90-92% of the pre-Covid levels by end of FY2023 and cross pre-Covid levels in FY2024," says Abhishek Lahoti, senior analyst, Corporate Ratings, ICRA.

"The recovery of domestic passenger traffic moderated in June 2022 in line with historic trends. The key reason for lower domestic traffic in June compared to May is due to the end of summer vacation, reopening of schools and consequently reduced leisure travel," he adds.

"Notwithstanding moderation in recovery in June 2022, we expect domestic air travel to recover back to pre-Covid levels in FY2023. The overall passenger traffic is expected to reach 96-97% of the pre-Covid levels (FY2020 levels) to 329-332 million in FY2023 on the back of the resilient domestic passenger traffic and the resumption of international commercial operations."

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