A few years ago, Chennai airport was the third busiest in the country and then it was pushed to the fourth and now, it is in the sixth spot in the overall passenger traffic, behind Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
In the international sector, Kochi has surged ahead handling more number of international passengers than Chennai.
After the second lockdown, there had been some increase in the overall passenger traffic at Chennai airport (both domestic and international) but not to the extent of going ahead of the other metro airports.
Officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said that several reasons, including restrictions in the aircraft movement last year to slots given in the Vande Bharat scheme for international flights have led to this.
“One of the reasons could be that, last year, the State government allowed a certain number of flights alone in the domestic sector in view of safety reasons and that we think could have had a ripple effect on the traffic over several months. Those restrictions were essential because bringing down the COVID-19 cases was of primary importance. Now, we don’t have any such restrictions and traffic is slowly increasing. But, it could take some more time for further recovery,” an official said.
Besides, international passenger traffic had not risen for several reasons, including the number of cases and restrictions. “The number of Vande Bharat flights we get depends on how many are allotted to Chennai by the Centre. We are trying our best to provide all facilities to passengers but there is only so much we can do with what is available,” the official added.