Domestic air passenger traffic had already risen 74 per cent annually and three per cent sequentially to 6.9 million passengers in September
Airlines have been allowed to operate to 100 per cent of their domestic capacity from Monday with restrictions that were in place at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic being removed gradually from the 33 per cent imposed in March 2020 and the 85 per cent that was in place from most recently. Domestic air passenger traffic had already risen 74 per cent annually and three per cent sequentially to 6.9 million passengers in September itself. This is a positive sign that the second wave of the coronavirus is on the wane and normalcy is considered possible in aviation.
There is less reason to worry on the count of increased air travel overly affecting the pandemic situation as the aviation sector is one that has maintained high standards in following pandemic protocols in flying people as much as passengers themselves have been a disciplined lot. What is invidious is while standards are expected and delivered in flying, there is very little control in overseeing other means of transport as people have been packing trains and buses to the brim during the festival season.
There is extensive movement of people on surface transport with very little checking and this is where the danger of the virus spreading around the country lies. It is hard or even near impossible to supervise thoroughly whether travellers have been vaccinated or are conforming to travel requirements like RT-PCR tests, which some states still insist upon. However, the need to let the economy bounce back towards pre-Covid levels is important from a national perspective even if this is leading to problems like price gouging in all forms of inter-state and intra-state public transport.
As transportation costs are going up proportionately with the rise in fuel prices, it once points to the government’s studied silence on reducing levies, exposing its determination to use taxes on fuel as a revenue generator. People will have to lump it while they set about travelling more as the economy revs up. As the planes and buses ply full, the one consolation is the country has moved on from a crippling fear of the pandemic. But it is on a wing and a prayer that we move on hoping the much-touted third wave does not materialise.