NEW DELHI: Mumbaikars could soon see domestic aerial connectivity almost double this Ganpati festival. Maharashtra is likely to allow Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) to handle up to 100 daily domestic arrivals and the same number of departures by the month-end, up from 50 now.
“Mumbai requires more domestic flights. I have taken up the issue up with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and am hopeful that very soon domestic flights to and from CSMIA will be significantly increased,” senior NCP leader Praful Patel said.
Airlines said as the state government capped daily domestic flights, Mumbai was yet to get connectivity to many cities, and frequency to other places was less than required. When domestic operations resumed after a two-month gap on May 25, Maharashtra allowed Mumbai to have only 25 daily departures and as many arrivals. This was raised to 50 from mid-June.
“We were off that mark in the first few days when that hike in capacity was allowed. But in the past few days, CSMIA has been almost reaching 50 domestic arrival and 50 domestic departure mark. As air travel is picking up, there is a need and demand for more flights to be allowed,” an airport source said.
An increase in aerial connectivity within the country is important as the Centre said it will consider resumption of international flights once domestic flights reach the 50-55% mark of the original summer schedule. Many passengers take connecting domestic flights while flying in and out of India from metro hubs. State governments allowing airports in big cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru to handle more flights will play a key role in domestic capacity inching to that mark. At present, domestic flights are operating at 30-35% of summer schedule.
CSMIA officials said they have tied up for Covid testing of international arrivals and can start as soon as the nod comes. Mumbai used to see nearly 1,000 daily flights domestic, international and charters in pre-corona times. Airlines similarly await lifting or easing of caps at other metro airports like Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata.
Travel industry has been the worst hit by the pandemic. Airlines and airport operators have taken steps to minimise the spread of coronavirus during travel.

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