These states handle maximum air traffic in India

For the last year or more, I have been posting the footfalls at top airports in the country. It evolved to have domestic, international and later the total footfalls. These are some of the most liked and retweeted tweets and widely shared on Telegram. Readers are always keen to understand things like why Bengaluru is third in domestic and overall traffic in India but lags on International traffic and falls behind Chennai and Kochi and all such nuances. 

Often, I get to hear that a particular state has more airports and hence the gateway airports suffer and so on. On this backdrop, I thought it was time to analyse which states handled how many passengers in the last financial year, based on the footfalls data declared by Airports Authority of India (AAI). 

Interestingly, the top three states handle nearly 50% of the traffic. This data also includes non-scheduled movements, which are otherwise not captured in the data released by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The top airport

A single airport, Delhi – which caters to Delhi and parts of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh stands out when it comes to traffic. With a footfall of 6,53,28,018 in the last financial year, Delhi topped the state with maximum passengers handled. 

This was followed by Maharashtra, largely led by Mumbai, which saw a total footfall of 5,x`61,12,562. Karnataka came in third with a footfall of 3,46,57,726. The traffic in Karnataka is led by Bengaluru, the third largest airport in the country by total traffic. 

The state owned AAI declared data for 13 airports in Maharashtra while it declared data for nine airports in Karnataka. 

Tamil Nadu was fourth with a footfall of 2,39,83,881 across six airports. Telangana comes in fifth with a footfall of 2,09,97,965 with just two airports and largely driven by Hyderabad, because the other airport is Begumpet which saw footfalls of less than 2,000 passengers in the entire year. 

Most Airports

As mentioned earlier, AAI also declares numbers for airports which may not see scheduled commercial service. This includes HAL Airport, Bengaluru, Begumpet airport, Hyderabad; Juhu airport in Mumbai; Mundra in Gujarat amongst others. 

Maharashtra has seen the highest number of airports at 13, followed by Gujarat at 11 airports. Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have nine airports each in the list, while Assam has 8.

Thirteen states or union territories have just 1 airport, while five states or union territories have two each. 

Uttar Pradesh which was to see multiple airports being operational by now has seen the airport development slow down. In fact, Kushinagar which saw operations start has been lying idle, with the sole operator SpiceJet pulling out flights.

Network Thoughts

As India opens up more airports, the challenge of developing route networks continues for airlines. 80% of the footfalls are handled at top 20 airports, even as over 100 remain operational. Not having stronger airlines and everybody vying for the same passengers has been a challenge for the last two decades. 

How does one holistically help the industry and the states grow? There has to be a constructive mechanism to help people contribute and for bureaucrats to take it forward, logically.

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