Air Passenger Growth Comes To A Halt In March
Domestic air passenger traffic growth managed to remain in the green in March, growing 0.14 percent, largely due to the capacity reduction brought by the troubles at Jet Airways (India) Ltd. in the month.
The monthly data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed that the cumulative traffic of 11 domestic airlines stood at 11.59 million in March compared to 11.58 million passengers a year ago.
The March numbers are a big setback to the industry which had been clipping at over 20 percent for more than four years in a row. After a record run-rate in high double digits, traffic has been on a lower altitude in January when it grew 9.1 percent, first single-digit growth in four years, and lost the momentum further in February when the incremental growth was capped at a low 5.62 percent.
The disappointing March numbers can most be attributed to the troubles that Jet Airways had been facing and the resultant spike in ticket prices across other airlines. The airline was finally grounded last week.
Jet Airways, once the second-largest airline after no-frills IndiGo, lost as much as nearly half of the market share to 5.37 percent during the month under review against 10 percent in the same period of last fiscal.
Together with subsidiary JetLite, the consolidated traffic of the now non-functional carrier was 6.71 lakh passengers in a month, whereas in the same period last year it had flown 15 lakh passengers on its own.
Budget carrier IndiGo continued to be the largest player with a market share of 46.9 percent ferrying 54 lakh passengers during the month, while its closest rival SpiceJet Ltd. was a distant second with 13.6 percent of the total traffic pie carrying 15.81 million in March.
Significantly, the national carrier Air India, which has a number of aircraft on ground for quite some time now, had the dubious distinction of cancelling the maximum number of flights, or 8.94 percent of its scheduled departures, followed by JetLite and new entrant Star Air.
The passenger load factor in March has shown falling trend compared to February due to end of the vacation period.
SpiceJet continued its spree of highest average seat occupancy across its planes at 91.4 percent, while GoAir topped the on-time performance chart for the sixth consecutive month at 95.2 percent.