Led by increased aircraft capacity and key airlines reporting load factors of over 80 per cent, India’s air passenger traffic for the month of January was 20 per cent higher at 1.15 crore from 95.79 lakh in the same month last year. According to data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), eight large scheduled airlines reported passenger load factor above 80 per cent with budget carriers SpiceJet and GoAir reporting load factor of 95 per cent and 90 per cent of their deployed capacity, respectively. While the largest Indian airline IndiGo reported a passenger load factor of 89.7 per cent, the second largest carrier Jet Airways saw a load factor of 88.7 per cent, followed by Tata-Singapore Airlines joint-venture Vistara at 87 per cent and flag-carrier Air India at 84.6 per cent.
“The lower airfares have been a result of induction of more seat capacity as well as crude oil prices staying stable. Major carriers further fuelled the growth by announcing sales during the month, despite it being a peak travel month. We do expect this growth trend to continue in the coming months,” said Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer (B2C), Yatra.com.
Even as Mumbai-based Jet Airways reported the fourth highest load factor numbers, the airline along with its low-cost operator JetLite, reported the worst on-time performance for the month of January at four metro airports in the country. According to DGCA data, Jet Airways operated 62.4 per cent of its flights on time, IndiGo topped the pecking order by operating 75.4 per cent of its flights on time. Gurgaon-based low-cost airline SpiceJet was second with 74.4 per cent of its flights operating on time. The on-time performance of the airlines at four major airports in India was worse than their previous performances over the last six months. While during January the best on-time performance was 75.4 per cent, it has been as high as 90 per cent by certain airlines during the last few months.
The issue of on-time performance recently came under the lens of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, which, in its report tabled in Parliament last month on issues related to improving consumers’ satisfaction of airlines pointed out the “erroneous” practice of “non-uniform block time” being followed by certain airlines to boost their on-time performance numbers. The committee recommended that all the carriers should adhere to uniform block times.