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Indian airlines fly high as August passenger traffic surges

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Shares of Indian airlines InterGlobe Aviation and SpiceJet surged on Friday after regulatory data showed that passenger growth jumped 136.6% last month as the government started to ease COVID-related travel restrictions.

India had halted air travel in March 2020 as the country went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Domestic flights resumed in May 2020, but air travel ever since has had some limitations as the pandemic progressed.

Domestic airlines carried 6.7 million passengers in August, compared with 2.8 million passengers in the year-ago period, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Thursday.

InterGlobe Aviation, which runs India’s largest airline IndiGo, extended gains to a fourth session and scaled a record high of 2,168.80 rupees on Friday, while shares of SpiceJet rose up to 7.9% to 81.95 rupees, their highest level in two months.

Passenger load factor, a measure of how much of an airline’s passenger carrying capacity has been used, jumped 11.8% for IndiGo and 6.7% for SpiceJet in August from prior month.

IndiGo Chief Executive Officer Ronojoy Dutta said in July that he expects capacity to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, but warned that a third wave of infections could swiftly disrupt things again.

SpiceJet stock was down 20% for the year, as of last close, while shares of InterGlobe have climbed roughly 15% over the same period. 

Photo – Passengers wear protective masks as they come out of the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi, India. EPA-EFE/RAJAT GUPTA

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