The longer you fly the lesser you pay — a study of a detailed fare analysis done for the first time for calendar year 2014 by the country’s aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) shows.
Among 18 routes studied connecting 10 metro and non-metro locations, the cheapest per km flying cost came out to be Rs 5 on the Delhi-Chennai sector spanning the longest flight distance of 1,754 km. Per km ticket cost stood the highest on the Delhi-Leh route at Rs 11.88, for flying nearly a third of the distance of 611 km. The limited availability of seats on the Delhi-Leh sector on account of fewer airlines flying to the location and limitations on flying hours affects to an extent price movement on the route.
But broadly the study shows, while the per km flying cost between the top six metros Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad ranged between Rs 5 (Delhi-Chennai) and Rs 7.04 (Mumbai-Hyderabad), flights from metros to non-metro locations such as Guwahati, Leh, Port Blair and Srinagar were more expensive. The average per km flying cost from Delhi to Srinagar was Rs 9.44 for covering a distance of 644 km. It stood at Rs 8.18 on Kolkata-Guwahati route (distance of 526 km) and Rs 6.99 on the Kolkata-Port Blair sector.
Average fares between top six metros ranged from Rs 4,383 on the Mumbai-Hyderabad route to Rs 9,162 for a ticket from Bengaluru to the capital city. Average fares to cities on non-trunk routes were slightly more expensive at Rs 10,347 for one-way travel between Mumbai and Srinagar. Average ticket prices to Guwahati from Kolkata and Delhi was Rs 4,303 and Rs 8,937, respectively. Average air fares to Port Blair from Kolkata and Chennai were Rs 8,823 and Rs 8,955; on the Delhi-Leh route it was Rs 7,257. Interestingly on the Mumbai-Srinagar route, low cost GoAir and IndiGo proved to be more expensive than Air India. While average ticket price of GoAir from Mumbai to Srinagar stood at Rs 11,374, that of IndiGo was Rs 10,217. Tickets on Air India were available for Rs 9,452.
What is also of note is that though SpiceJet may have triggered off a slew of fare wars in domestic skies last year, it is not necessarily the cheapest airline you can fly within the country. It is only on four sectors — Mumbai-Hyderabad (Rs 3942), Kolkata-Delhi (Rs 7344), Kolkata-Port Blair (Rs 5458) and Chennai-Port Blair (Rs 6246) that the average fare charged by SpiceJet was lower than that of competitors in last year. On all other routes spanning the six major metros and cities such as Srinagar, Guwahati, Leh and Port Blair it is mostly IndiGo and GoAir who offered the cheapest options.
The prudent inventory/fare management and marketing initiatives, however, helped SpiceJet record the highest passenger load factor (PLF) or occupancy during 2014 at 78.4 per cent. Low-cost rivals IndiGo and GoAir both had PLF of 76.9 per cent, which simply put, means it flew 77 out of 100 seats full last year. Jet Airways charged a substantial premium over rivals on all sectors for its full service offering and its occupancy was the lowest among all airlines studied at 74 per cent. The airline’s low-cost arm JetKonnect too priced tickets higher than full-service counterpart Air India in as many as 10 sectors. JetLite (operated under the JetKonnect brand) had PLF of 76.5 per cent, a tad better than Air India whose average occupancy stood at 75.1 per cent.