Recovery in domestic air passenger traffic continued in September with a sequential growth about 37-39 per cent in passenger volume in the previous month over August, ratings agency Icra said on Monday.

The passenger volumes, however, plunged around 60 per cent in September over the same month year-ago, it said in a release.

Besides, the domestic carriers also increased capacity deployment significantly to around 46 per cent in September as compared to 33 per cent in the month ago, according to Icra.

The Civil Aviation Ministry in June had permitted increasing the capacity to 45 per cent with effect from June 27 from a maximum of one-third at the time of resumption of domestic flights from May 25, which was further scaled up to 60 per cent from September 2.

This apart, the ministry in late August announced other relaxations also such as allowing airlines to provide meals on board, serve pre-packed snacks/meals/ pre-packaged beverages, and allowing in-flight entertainment, however with certain riders.

"The number of flights departing has also gradually increased from 416 on Day 1 (May 25) to 1,488 on Day 128 (September 28,)," said Kinjal Shah, Vice President, ICRA.

For September, the average daily departures were about 1,311, significantly lower than the average daily departures of 2,874 in September 2019, though much better than about 930 in August 2020, she said.

The average number of passengers per flight during September was 98, as against an average of 133 passengers per flight in September 2019, said Shah, adding, therefore, it is expected that the domestic industry operated at a passenger load factor (PLF) of about 63 per cent in the previous month as against 85.5 per cent in September 2019.

The PLF for September was similar to the earlier month despite a 37 per cent growth in capacity.

Overall, from May 25, 2020, till September 30, 2020, the domestic passenger traffic has been about 11 million, she said.

While the scheduled international operations are yet to start, the ministry has permitted international operations under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) and Air Transport Bubbles (ATB).

Under the VBM for evacuation of Indian citizens from foreign shores, which started from May 7, the international passenger traffic (inbound and outbound) has been 8.41 lakh while for September, the international passengers volume stood at 2.08 lakh, a decline of 89 per cent over September 2019, Icra said.

According to Shah, the prolonged shutdown of manufacturing activities in several countries and the subsequent impact of the outbreak on global economic activity will keep the crude oil prices and, in turn, the jet fuel or aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices low.

The ATF prices increased sequentially by 24.1 per cent in July and by 4.2 per cent in August this year, said Icra.