Indian domestic air travel up 13%

Most of the scheduled Indian carriers have seen a decline in their passenger load factor
Indian domestic air travel up 13%
By James Mathew
Thu 22 Nov 2018 05:39 PM

In line with the continuing trend of more and more Indians taking to the air for their travels, the total number of domestic fliers in India has shot up 13 percent year-on-year to 11.84 million in October this year.

On a cumulative basis, the domestic air traffic in India has registered an even higher growth rate at 20 percent during January-October 2018 to reach 114.6 million passengers, compared to 95.4 million passengers who flew in the corresponding period of last year.

Aviation industry analysts see the healthier growth in domestic air traffic during January-October this year as a further proof of the increasing preference of Indians to opt for air travel.

Interestingly, despite the swelling number of fliers in the domestic sector, most of the scheduled Indian carriers have seen a decline in their passenger load factor (PLF) in October this year from the previous month, according to the latest data available with Indian aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Among the leading Indian carriers, Jet Airways and its sister airline JetLite have seen their PLFs declining to 81.6 percent and 80.2 percent in October from 84.9 percent and 83 percent respectively in the previous month of September, while SpiceJet has seen a decline in its PLF to 90.8 percent (93.2 percent in Sept). Air India’s PLF declined to 78.8 percent (81.1 percent in Sept) and Go Air’s PLF to 84.1 percent last month from 90.6 percent in Sept 2018.

Leader in the Indian skies IndiGo, however, has managed to register a marginal increase in its PLF in October this year to 83.1 percent from 82.7 percent in the previous month of September.

Air Asia is other carrier whose PLF has seen climbing up to 82.8 percent last month from 71.7 percent in Sept 2018.

Increase

Among the regional carriers, the Hyderabad-based True Jet has registered an increase in its PLF to 81.7 percent in October this year from 76.1 percent in the previous month, while Air Deccan has seen a sharp drop in its PLF to 18.6 percent last month from 42.5 percent in Sept 2018.

While increase in domestic airline capacities is believed to be one of the reasons for the decline in PLFs of most of the Indian carriers, aviation industry analysts also believe some other factors also must have contributed to the decline.

“There has been a 4-5 percent increase in airfare in the last 4-5 weeks, which must have impacted the passenger load factors of the Indian carriers. Adding capacities in several domestic routes by airlines could be another reason for it,” Kinjal Shah, vice president at ICRA, told Arabian Business.

Whenever the available seat kilometres (ASK) of airlines go up, it tends to impact the passenger load factor (PLF), dragging it down, Kinjal said.

Though SpiceJet has seen a decline in its PLF in October this year, the airline said is PLF of 90.8 percent in October is the highest among Indian carriers and that this has helped it to achieve the feat of clocking the highest PLFs among Indian carriers for several months consecutively.

“This is the 43rd month-in-a-row that we have flown with the highest loads in India. This has set a new benchmark in global aviation and we are proud of that,”  Shilpa Bhatia, chief sales and revenue officer, SpiceJet, said.

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