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Tue 22 Jan 2019 02:05 PM

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India's domestic air passenger traffic up 18.6% in 2018

A total of 1.7 billion passengers flew domestically in India last year

India's domestic air passenger traffic up 18.6% in 2018
State-owned carrier Air India’s share in the total domestic passenger traffic further slid to 12.7 percent in 2018 from 13.3 percent in the previous year.

India’s domestic air passenger traffic registered a healthy 18.6 percent growth in 2018, reaching 1.39 billion passengers, despite the airline industry in India going through a turbulent period currently with Jet Airways, the country’s number two carrier in terms of market share, being on the verge of a possible collapse.

The total number of passengers carried by domestic airlines in India stood at 1.17 billion in 2017.

In line with the growing trend of more and more Indians taking to air for travel, December 2018 also saw a near 13 percent jump in domestic air passenger traffic to reach 12.7 million, according to the latest data available with Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“The latest data reconfirms the robust growth in air passenger traffic in India. However, this also brings out the irony of how airlines are unable to increase air fares despite the uptick in demand, in the face of growing competition in the industry,” Harsh Jagnani, aviation and airport industry analyst with ICRA, told Arabian Business.

This (inability to increase air fares), along with hike in aviation fuel and fall in rupee have resulted in Indian carriers facing serious financial crisis in the recent quarters, Jagnani said.

In terms of passenger load factor (PLF), SpiceJet topped the list among the domestic carriers, registering 92.7 percent PLF in December 2018, followed by Indigo at 88.9 percent and Air Asia at 88.8 percent PLF respectively.

Cash strapped carrier Jet Airway’s registered a PLF of 87 percent last month, much above the state-owned carrier Air India which could garner a PLF of only 81.2 percent in December 2018.

“We are happy to finish 2018 on a high note by registering the highest passenger load factor of 92.7% in December --- a feat we accomplished every single month of the previous year. In fact, this is the 45th month-in-a-row that we have flown with the highest loads in India and we will strive to better ourselves in 2019,” Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales & Revenue Officer, SpiceJet, said.

Significantly, state-owned carrier Air India’s share in the total domestic passenger traffic further slid to 12.7 percent in 2018 from 13.3 percent in the previous year.

Private carriers together accounted for 87.3 percent of the total number of air passengers last year, with IndiGo leading the market with a share of 41.5 percent and Jet Airways a distant second with 13.8 percent market share in 2018.

Airline industry sources said air passenger traffic in India is expected to grow further in 2019, with addition of new airport at Kannur in Kerala, and the expected expansions at some of the domestic airports.

Kannur international airport, commencing its operations on December 9th, 2018 with limited operations to the Gulf sector and also domestically, is expected to see many more domestic and international carriers starting their operations from it by the turn of the summer schedule.

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