The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (SVP) has witnessed a roller coaster of a financial year in 2012-13. The number of international passengers travelling from Gujarat saw a jump of 9.8% between April 2012 and March 2013, but the number of domestic flyers dropped by a record 15.3%, the biggest fall in the country.
According to the Airport Authority of India's (AAI) data, as compared to the financial year 2011-12, 2012-13 saw an increase of 73,263 international passengers at the SVP Airport, while in the domestic category, there were 6.05 lakh fewer passengers this past year. The data revealed that in the financial year 2012-13 only 33.44 lakh passengers used the SVP Airport while it was 39.50 lakh in 2011-12.
Officials said that in the month of March alone, there was a drop of about 4%. The fall in domestic tourists began in August 2012, and in October, the number of domestic fliers fell by 32%, which again fell by 17.2% in November, and by 19.5% in December. There was also a considerable, albeit smaller, drop in January and February.
Comparing the data of the financial years 2012-13 and 2011-12, officials at the SVP airport said that in the domestic category, in the financial year 2012-13, among the 11 international airports and six joint venture international airports, Ahmedabad had the largest fall of 15.3%. Next came Nagpur with an 11.5% drop, followed by Delhi, which registered a 9.3% decrease in passengers, while Mumbai saw a fall of 3.6%.
The growth in airline traffic at Ahmedabad airport seems to have hit rock bottom this year. Officials said that at the end of the financial year 2011-12, the SVP airport had registered a 22.8% increase from 2010-11.
The drop in the number of passengers can be attributed to the decreasing flight movement in Ahmedabad, which fell by 7.2 per cent. Compared to 34,911 flights in the financial year 2011-12, there were only 32,405 flights which operated in the year 2012-13.
Airport officials said, "Earlier we had concluded that the number of passengers was dropping as one of the major operators had shut down. But now it is becoming clear that the steep increase in the airfare since September has been a major cause of concern for domestic and frequent fliers. During November and December, because of Diwali and Christmas vacations, we were expecting an increase in passengers, instead experienced a decrease."
An airline official refusing to be quoted said, "We have seen that the number of domestic passengers fell drastically on the Delhi and Mumbai routes. Individuals and corporate executives have preferred not to fly," he said.