A JetBlue Airways Corp. Airbus Group SE A320 aircraft taxis to the gate. (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

India’s Air Passenger Traffic Growth At 16-Quarter Low In Holiday Season

The number of passengers flying in Indian airlines grew at its slowest pace in at least 16 quarters during the seasonally strong holiday period as carriers hiked prices to offset higher fuel cost and a weaker rupee.

Passenger growth stood at nearly 12 percent in the three months to December, the lowest since at least the fourth quarter of financial year 2014-15, according to BloombergQuint’s calculations based on the data from Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Domestic airlines’ fuel consumption had indicated passenger growth had slowed in the world’s fastest growing aviation market. Demand for aviation turbine fuel in November was the lowest in 11 months despite a lower base since Diwali holiday travel fell in October last year, BloombergQuint had earlier reported. Signs of a slower passenger growth during the holiday period is a concern when airlines are expected to benefit from falling oil prices. The airlines suffered for most part of the year as crude surged, rupee weakened, and intense competition curtailed their ability to hike prices.

Among major airlines, close to 1.26 crore passengers took to the skies in IndiGo, AirAsia and SpiceJet Ltd., the DGCA data showed.

  • IndiGo’s air traffic grew 23.7 percent year-on-year to 54.79 lakh in the quarter ended December.
  • The number of passengers who took to the skies in SpiceJet rose 9.6 percent on a yearly basis to 15.64 lakh.
  • Jet Group’s air passenger growth fell 6.9 percent over the last year to 17.63 lakh in the October-December period.
  • Air India’s air traffic grew 6.5 percent to 15.68 lakh.

Passenger load factor—the percentage of seats filled—declined for all major carriers because of higher capacity additions and slower passenger growth. Seat occupancy declined the most for Vistara, followed by IndiGo—the country’s largest airline. The InterGlobe Aviation Ltd.-operated airline increased its capacity by 30 percent—nearly double of the industry.

Still, IndiGo gained market share in the December quarter. That’s at the expense of peers such as Jet Group and SpiceJet. The Naresh Goyal-led Jet Group’s market share stood close to 14 percent—the lowest in at least four years. Market share of SpiceJet stood at nearly 12 percent.

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