SpiceJet’s Air Passenger Growth At 43-Month High In October
A Boeing Co. 737 aircraft operated by SpiceJet Ltd. approaches to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

SpiceJet’s Air Passenger Growth At 43-Month High In October

SpiceJet Ltd.’s air passenger growth jumped to its highest in nearly four years in the seasonally strong October as India’s second-largest airline increased capacity and offered discounts.

The number of passengers flying the Ajay Singh-led carrier grew 45.1 percent year-on-year last month, the fastest pace in 43 months, according to data compiled by BloombergQuint from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. That compares with 15 percent passenger growth of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd.-operated IndiGo—India’s largest airline and the only other listed carrier, besides SpiceJet.

The industry’s domestic passenger growth, however, stood at 4 percent—the worst pace in October in at least six years and nearly one-fourth of the monthly average growth in last five years. That’s because Jet Airways (India) Ltd. shut operations. Nearly 1.23 crore passengers took to the skies in October, the DGCA data showed.

October is usually a strong month due to the festival season—a period of high demand when companies offer no freebies. But the trend reversed this time amid a prolonged slowdown. Ronojoy Dutta, chief executive officer of IndiGo, after the second-quarter earnings, had said this time airlines are coming out with sales during the festive period, which shows that there are “signs of weakness”. India’s both listed airlines posted their highest loss in the quarter ended September as costs rose and the rupee depreciated.

Here’s how the year-on-year passenger growth of major Indian airlines fared in October...

  • GoAir’s air passenger growth stood at 31.5 percent—slowest pace in three months.
  • Vistara’s air passenger growth stood at 53.8 percent—higher than previous month.
  • Air passenger growth of Air India stood at 7.1 percent—lower than previous month.
  • AirAsia’s air passenger growth stood at 24.9 percent—slowest pace in five months.

Passenger load factor, percentage of seats filled or a measure of capacity utilisation, declined for all airlines in India over last month as the pace of adding capacity was faster than with which the seats were filled.

SpiceJet’s seat occupancy fell 300 basis points in October—the most in nearly five years. Still, the airline managed to report load factor at more than 90 percent for 54 straight months.

Here’s how month-on-month passenger load factor of airlines fared in October…

  • IndiGo’s load factor declined 140 basis points to 85.1 percent.
  • AirAsia’s passenger load factor fell 170 basis points to 83 percent.
  • Vistara’s passenger load factor declined 240 basis points to 77.9 percent.
  • Passenger load factor of Air India decreased 300 basis points to 76 percent.
  • GoAir’s passenger load factor dropped 360 basis points to 83.1 percent.

Market share of only SpiceJet and Tata Group-controlled AirAsia rose in October compared to last month. While SpiceJet’s market share rose to its highest in five years, AirAsia’s increased marginally.

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