The demand for air travel continues to be high, with airlines reporting a 17.1 per cent year-on-year jump in domestic passenger traffic in August. According to the data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday, airlines carried 11.35 million passengers last month as fares remain subdued as compared with the year-ago period.
Indian airlines had flown nearly 9.69 million passengers in August 2017 at a 15.6 per cent y-o-y growth.
The average ticket prices on key metro routes like Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Bengaluru, Delhi-Chennai were down by up to 10 per cent y-o-y during August 2018. Demand is high because airlines have so far not raised fares though the fuel cost has risen by 35 per cent y-o-y.
Carriers have been adding new routes in their network, thereby creating more capacity, with demand remaining high. However, the passenger load factor (PLF) for individual airlines was down between 1 per cent and 11 per cent y-o-y, highlighting faster capacity expansion than the passenger traffic. Air India was the only one to report an increase in PLF — up 8 per cent y-o-y due to better route management.
The top five airlines — IndiGo, Jet Airways, Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir — flew with load factors between 80.6 per cent and 93.6 per cent. SpiceJet continued to remain in pole position among all key scheduled carriers at 93.6 per cent, but down 1 per cent y-o-y. GoAir recorded a PLF of 84.6 per cent, followed by market leader IndiGo (82.8 per cent) and Jet Airways (80.6 per cent) — all witnessing a dip of around 1 per cent y-o-y. Tata Sons joint ventures — Air Asia and Vistara — recorded occupancy of 76.2 per cent and 81.5 per cent, down 11 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.
“Our analysis say August fares were down up to 5 per cent year-on-year. Airlines have lost ability to price tickets higher. Things are likely to improve from the festival season onwards. The DGCA data suggest that capacity has gone up faster than the passenger traffic which is evident from the marginal dip in the load factors,” Balu Ramachandran, head — air and distribution, Cleartrip, said.
Experts also say inundation of the Kochi international airport did not have a major impact on the domestic passenger growth. The airport remained closed between August 15 and 28 due to unprecedented floods in the southern state. Airlines had used nearby Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode airports to serve passengers. The market share of scheduled carriers remained similar, with IndiGo leading with 41.9 per cent. It carried 4.75 million passengers in August. Jet flew 1.72 million, having a 15.2 per cent market share, while Air India had a market share of 12.7 per cent with 1.44 million travellers. —FE