Air travel: As small-town Indian soars, men from metros go limp

Written by Mihir Mishra | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 20 2013, 17:33pm hrs
Air travelSmall town people are logging frequent flying miles, leaving their cosmopolitan cousins grounded. (Reuters)
On air travel small town Indians' have grounded their cosmopolitan cousins and SpiceJet shows way, shows Airports Authority of India. Even as people in big cities are refraining from travelling by air, travellers from smaller cities have shown preference for flying over other modes of travel. The air travel data between April and December of the current fiscal show that smaller airports in the country have registered an increase in the total number of domestic passengers while airports in larger cities are seeing a decline.

Data compiled by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) show that 17 large international airports have registered a decline during the period. Of the 17 airports, six are private airports that include Delhi and Mumbai and have registered the highest decline of 8.6 per cent followed by 11 other international airports that has seen a decline of 4.5 per cent.

Smaller airports increase in domestic passengers, however, did not help the overall numbers from falling.

The growth from smaller airports are coming after SpiceJet started connecting these airports through their 70-seater Bombardier Q400s. Also, these airports have a lower base in terms of number of passengers and one is not certain about their growth in the future and also viability of these airports, said Kapil Kaul, CEO, India, of Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, an aviation consultancy firm.

Kaul added that passenger numbers in bigger airports declined after airlines raised fares by around 30 per cent in the beginning of 2012.

After growing in double digits for around three years, domestic passengers started declining from June last year, primarily due to airlines increasing fares to meet their costs and to encash on the demand-supply mismatch created by Kingfisher Airlines shutting operations. Even as airlines are seeing a slowdown in the domestic sector, the number of international passengers grew by around 4 per cent during the period.