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

India’s Air Passenger Traffic Growth Falls To Five-Year Low

India’s second-largest airline SpiceJet Ltd. outpaced larger peer IndiGo in passenger traffic growth for first time in 14 months even as the number of Indian fliers rose at the slowest pace in five years in February.

Flight cancellations caused by grounding of fund-starved Jet Airways’ aircraft, pilot shortages faced by IndiGo and Mumbai runway shutdown might be the key reason behind the slowdown in passenger growth in February, Gagan Dixit, aviation analyst with Elara Capital, told BloombergQuint.

Debt-troubled Jet Airways (India) Ltd., which grounded 19 aircraft in February, witnessed the biggest-ever drop of 28 percent in its passenger growth. The airline’s domestic market share slipped to its lowest of 11.4 percent.

Passenger load factor, a measure of occupancy, improved for all the major airlines over the previous month because of flight cancellations. But it fell over last year. It dropped for the ninth straight month for SpiceJet—the airline, however, has stayed above 90-percent-plus load factor for 46 straight months now.

The passenger load factor for:

  • IndiGo fell by 340 basis points to 88.4 percent.
  • Jet Airways’ declined by 100 basis points to 89.4 percent.
  • Air India fell by 340 basis points to 83.3 percent.
  • GoAir improved by 220 basis points to 92.6 percent.
  • Air Asia’s rose by 380 basis points to 91.8 percent.
  • Vistara declined by 210 basis points to 89.1 percent.

IndiGo’s market share increased to 43.4 percent, while that of SpiceJet rose to 13.7 percent. Air India, Jet Group and GoAir’s market share declined over a year ago. Tata Group’s owned airline companies—Air Asia and Vistara –increased its share in February.

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