An IndiGo aircraft prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

A Bad Holiday Month For Airlines 

Airline passenger traffic in India rose at the slowest pace in four years in the usually strong holiday month of May.

At 12 million passengers, growth stood at 16.5 percent over the same month last year, according to data released by the Director General of Civil Aviation. That’s the first time in five months the pace dropped below 20 percent in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market.

The slower growth comes as prices of aviation turbine fuel rose, driven by a surge in crude. India’s fuel retailers have increased jet fuel prices for 11 straight months. The nation’s largest carrier IndiGo, operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., has already started charging Rs 400 as fuel surcharge on every domestic ticket.

GoAir, AirAsia Bhd. and Vistara led the passenger traffic growth in May, beating the industry average of 16.5 percent. IndiGo lagged for the third straight month.

Passenger load factor declined for all major operators over the previous month. SpiceJet’s capacity utilisation was the lowest in the last seven months, but remained above 90 percent for the 37th consecutive month.

IndiGo consolidated its market share by gaining 110 basis points to 40.9 percent—the highest in 12 months—due to capacity addition. Among the smaller operators, only AirAsia gained market share.

Flight cancellation rate for IndiGo was below the industry average for the second straight month and also the lowest among the larger carriers.

IndiGo also retained the pole position in on-time performance for the second straight month. SpiceJet was the most punctual in the first three months of the year while IndiGo was beset by engine failures.

Also read: Pratt Is Said to Ship Spare Engines for Grounded IndiGo Jets