India’s Air Passenger Growth Falls To Lowest In Six Years During Festival Quarter
A row of passenger aircraft line up ahead of take off. (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

India’s Air Passenger Growth Falls To Lowest In Six Years During Festival Quarter

India’s air passenger growth during the seasonally strong Diwali festival quarter rose at the slowest pace in six years as Indians cut back on travel in a slowing economy.

Airlines’ passenger traffic grew at 5.8 percent year-on-year to 3.82 crore in the quarter ended December, according to data shared by Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

More Indians usually take to the skies in the festive season. A slower air passenger growth during the period this year would be a concern when airlines are also grappling with higher maintenance costs. That comes as slowing consumption is estimated to bring down India’s GDP growth rate to lowest in more than a decade in in 2019-20.

In December, the number of passengers flying Indian airlines grew at 2.6 percent year-on-year to nearly 1.3 crore—the slowest in last three months, according to DGCA data.

Air passenger growth in December is nearly one-fourth of what the industry recorded in November—which stood at 11.2 percent. It is also nearly one-sixth of the average air passenger growth of the last six years which is around 16 percent.

Here’s how the year-on-year passenger growth of airlines fared in December:

  • IndiGo’s air passenger growth stood at 13 percent—the slowest in last 25 months.
  • SpiceJet’s air passenger growth stood at 37.1 percent—the slowest in last three months.
  • GoAir’s air passenger growth stood at 19.8 percent—the slowest in last nine months.
  • Vistara’s air passenger growth stood at 65.7 percent—lower than previous months.
  • Air India’s air passenger growth contracted 1.2 percent—the worst in last nine months.
  • AirAsia India’s air passenger growth stood at 35.4 percent—lower than previous months.

Passenger load factor, percentage of seats filled or a measure of capacity utilisation, improved compared to last year for only two airlines—GoAir and IndiGo. SpiceJet, whose passenger growth rate came in at a three-month low in December, managed to report 90 percent passenger load factor for the 56th consecutive month.

Here’s how year-on-year passenger load factor of airlines fared in December:

  • IndiGo’s PLF decreased by 120 basis points to 90.1 percent.
  • GoAir’s PLF increased by 120 basis points to 89.7 percent.
  • SpiceJet’s PLF flat at 92.7 percent.
  • AirAsia India’s PLF decreased by 450 basis points to 84.3 percent.
  • Vistara’s PLF decreased by 200 basis points to 81.1 percent.
  • Air India’s PLF decreased by 40 basis points to 80.8 percent.

Market Share

SpiceJet and Tata Group-controlled AirAsia India and Vistara saw expansion in market share in December compared to the previous month. While SpiceJet’s market share rose to a five-year high of 16.5 percent, market share of Vistara and Air Asia stood at 13.1 percent—their highest ever.

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