India's Regional Air Travel Surges As Smaller Cities Benefit From Aviation Expansion: Civil Aviation Ministry Reports

Swarajya Staff

Jul 05, 2024, 02:58 PM | Updated 02:58 PM IST

India is emerging as one of the world's fastest-growing civil aviation markets. (Representative Image)
India is emerging as one of the world's fastest-growing civil aviation markets. (Representative Image)

Government initiatives and the expansion of service networks linking smaller cities by domestic airlines have fuelled a significant increase in regional air travel during the last fiscal year, as reported by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

At the country’s regional airports, the number of air travellers jumped between 30 per cent and 702 per cent in financial year (FY) 2024 from the previous year, reports Economic Times.

Among these, Tezpur airport, Assam, stood out with a sevenfold increase in passenger traffic — from around 4,000 passengers in FY23 to over 32,000 in FY24.

Additionally, Diu Airport, operational since 2018, saw a 65 per cent rise in passenger traffic to 66,252.

Pantnagar Airport in Uttarakhand, which opened in 2019, recorded a 55.8 per cent increase in passenger count to 110,824.

Shillong also witnessed significant growth, with a more than 40 per cent rise in air traveller numbers in FY24, attributed to competitive fares in the North East region.

Similarly, Agra reported strong growth with a 40.9 per cent increase in passenger traffic, reaching 182,956 in FY24.

India’s aviation sector is experiencing a significant transformation towards enhanced regional connectivity.

This growth, pushed by government initiatives, airline expansions, and increasing passenger demand, is creating new opportunities for smaller cities and towns.

Many of these airports have benefitted from the ‘UDAN’ scheme — a government programme aimed at promoting affordable regional air travel.

Since its inception in 2017, the Regional Connectivity Scheme has steadily improved access to air travel and connected smaller cities.

The number of domestic routes has risen from 215 in April 2014 to 540 by April 2024.

The government has set targets to operationalise 1,000 UDAN routes and to revive or develop 100 unserved and underserved airports.

Furthermore, according to recent analysis based on OAG data, India's domestic airline capacity has doubled over the past decade, reaching 15.5 million in April 2024, up from 7.9 million in April 2014.

Consequently, India has ascended to the position of the world's third-largest domestic airline market, up from fifth place a decade ago.

Also Read: In Numbers: How India Is Emerging As The World’s Fastest-Growing Air Passenger Market

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