Country’s second wave of Covid 19 has cast a cloud over the aviation sector, which is barely recovering from the harsh lockdown of 2020. Domestic passenger traffic has been rising every month since airlines returned to the skies in June. However, in the first week of May, fewer Indians flew than the week before with maximum passengers postponing their travel plans.
Like other Airports, the Birsa Munda International Airport in Ranchi too is witnessing a fall of passengers. Birsa Munda International Airport director Vinod Sharma said, “Like other airports across the State, the Birsa Munda International Airport too is witnessing a fall of passengers in the past few weeks. There has been a decline of fifty per cent both in number of passengers and flight operations from Airport.”
Sharma said, “On an average daily basis the footfall of passengers at Birsa Munda Airport was around 5000 which included both passengers reaching Ranchi from other cities to those leaving from Ranchi airport, but the number has declined to around 2000 passengers.” “Further 19 flights used to fly from Birsa Munda Airport on normal days which have reduced to 9 flights a day,” added Sharma. This decline is across all airline services having its operation from Birsa Munda International Airport.
On Thursday 15 flights from Ranchi Airport were cancelled due to fewer passengers. On Thursday only eight flights had its operation from Ranchi Airport. This trend has been witnessing for the past week. Based on figures available from the Airport, in the month of March 1774 flights took off from Ranchi Airport to different cities in India which reduced to 1596 flights taking off in April.
Even passengers are scared of using air services. Anand Kishore, a technocrat, said, “In first week of May, I had some assignment in Mumbai, but I postponed the work due to the surge of Covid 19 in Maharashtra.”
On the other hand, there has been a huge drop in the number of rail passengers in Ranchi Rail Division. According to the figures received from the division, only 50 percent of berths are occupied in Hatia-Patna Islampur special train, while only 30 percent passengers are traveling in the incoming train. In Ranchi-Howrah special train, 25 percent berths are occupied from the sides, 27 percent in Kriya Yoga Express, 30 percent in Rajdhani Express. Most of the reserved berths are going empty. At the same time, 25 percent of berths are occupied in Dumka Intercity Special train. The drop in rail passengers is also affecting revenue collection of railways.
Currently Hatia-Yeshwantpur Special train running between Ranchi and Bangalore is running with full occupancy as a large number of passengers are returning from Bangalore Karnataka to their home town in fear of possible lockdown in Southern state. Similarly, the LTT special train for Mumbai has 35 per cent occupancy, but the train from Mumbai to Ranchi is running with 100 per cent occupancy as migrant laborers are returning in large numbers.