For the first time, total monthly passenger traffic breached the 2-lac mark continuing its growth from previous months
By: Sameep Singh Gumtala
For the first time, total monthly traffic at Sri Guru Das Jee (SGRDJ) International Airport, Amritsar breached the two-lac mark for International and Domestic passengers. This landmark was achieved in the month of October 2017. Domestic air traffic rose nearly 73.7% in October 2017 in comparison to the same month in 2016, and continuing its growth from previous months. According to the monthly data released for all airports by the Airport Authority of India on its website, a total of 159,311 domestic passengers flew in Oct 2017 from the Airport, up from 91,706 in Oct 2016, a year earlier. Domestic traffic between Amritsar-Delhi and Amritsar-Mumbai top the list with 113,546 and 29,376 passengers.
International passenger traffic also rose by 15.5% in October with 52,691 passengers, up from 45,606 a year earlier in Oct 2016. Even though, no new international flight has started from Amritsar Airport in 2017, this rise is due to the increase in passenger load on existing flights which shows that more travelers from the region are preferring Amritsar Airport instead of Delhi
Increase in Traffic from April to October for financial year 2017-2018
During the first seven months of financial year 2017-2018, passengers carried by domestic airlines from April to October were 868,162 as against 567,738 during the corresponding period of previous year, thereby registering a growth of 52.9%, shows the monthly domestic traffic report. This increase is largely due to the addition of Delhi, Mumbai, Jammu, Srinagar, and Bengaluru flights by Indigo and Vistara in 2017. Total number of aircraft movements also increase by 73.1% compared to last year.
Despite no addition of international flights, number of international passengers during April-October 2017 has increased to 334,256 as against 289,758 during the corresponding period of previous year, thereby registering a double-digit growth of 15.4%. This rise in traffic shows that more people prefer to fly to Amritsar Airport.
Traffic Projection for Financial Year 2017-2018
Going by the passenger growth trend for the financial year and the planned capacity expansion by airlines during the second half of the year, it remains only a matter of time that the total passenger traffic this year at the airport will cross the landmark of 2 million passengers for the first time. This includes the start of Air India twice weekly Mumbai-Amritsar-Mumbai and Amritsar-Nanded-Amritsar flight on December 23, 2017 and then twice weekly Amritsar-Birmingham-Amritsar flight in February 2018. Depending upon the response, Air India will increase the frequency of flights.
Potential for start of more International Flights in 2018
This increase in domestic passengers also proves the potential for more international flights from the Airport. More than 50% of the domestic passengers between Amritsar-Delhi fly to/from international destinations via Delhi Airport. International traffic is definitely going to increase in 2018 with the newly announced twice a week Amritsar-Birmingham flight starting in early 2018 by Air India. This flight is expected to start by February 2018.
Thai Smile, Air Asia and Indigo are other airlines that are exploring starting of international flights from the Airport. Many other international carriers including Fly Dubai, Oman Air and Turkish Airways are willing to start flights to Amritsar but not able to do so due to the non-renewal of old bilateral air service agreements that do not allow them to start flights to Amritsar Airport. Ministry of Civil Aviation should add Amritsar as point of call for airlines from these countries and leaders from the region should make efforts for it.