International passengers at Indian airports up 12% in H1 FY14

Written by Rhik Kundu | Mumbai | Updated: Dec 18 2013, 14:43pm hrs
The volume of international passengers at Indian airports rose to 22,429,847 between April and September 2013, up 12% year-on-year, according to data from the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The Delhi International Airport (DIAL) hosted 6,023,665 international passengers, an increase of 19.6% y-o-y. The Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) was the second-busiest airport in the country as it ferried 5,028,576 passengers, up a more modest 4.6% y-o-y. Some of the other AAI airports that saw high growth were Varanasi (90.8%), Srinagar (89.1%), Mangalore (69.4%), Ahmedabad (38%) and Guwahati (22.7%).

Travel companies attribute this rise to increasing popularity of short-haul international destinations, especially in south Asian and southeast Asian countries. While domestic fares have risen, airfares to most short-haul international destinations from India have remained constant or, in some cases, fallen.

For example, a return ticket from Mumbai to Kolkata costs R16,000, if booked a week in advance while a return ticket to Bangkok from Kolkata can be purchased for R14,000.

Over the past two to three years, domestic airfares have increased by about 20% y-o-y without any capacity addition. However, ticket prices for short-haul international destinations, especially to south and southeast Asia, have become competitive since there has been a significant rise in seat capacity. Airlines like SpiceJet, IndiGo and Air Asia have started flights to the regions, Yatra Online president Sharat Dhall said.

The number of international flights to short-haul Asian destinations increased by at least 15% on y-o-y basis from last year, Dhall said. At present, there are about 29 international airports in India 16 AAI-operated international airports, six joint venture international airports and seven custom airports.

International passengers at seven customs airports Pune, Visakhapatnam, Patna, Chandigarh, Bagdogra, Madurai and Gaya more than doubled to 1,52,723 during the period buoyed by strong rise in passengers at airports like Madurai (3,983.5%) and Visakhapatnam (102%). The international traffic at seven joint venture international airports grew 12.2% y-o-y and AAI-operated 16 international airports grew at 10.3% y-o-y.

The six airports Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Cochin, and Nagpur which are managed under the public-private partnership model together clocked 15,243,898 passengers.

Chennai airport clocked the highest international traffic as it hosted 2,284,434 passengers during April-September 2013, against 2,257,635 during the same period of the previous year. Kolkata airport was a distant second as it saw 815,892 passengers during the first two quarters of the 2014 fiscal, against 762,278 passengers during the same period of the previous year.

Meanwhile, the total number of domestic passengers in the country grew by 6.6% during the period to 60,532,313. Delhi and Mumbai were also the busiest domestic airports with 11,973,563 and 10,736,774 passengers respectively. Though the domestic passengers at the Delhi airport grew by a mere 4.4% y-o-y, the same for Mumbai stood at 11.8%.

We expect domestic traffic in FY14 to grow by 5-7%, and international traffic by 9-11% over last year, said Amber Dubey, partner and head (aerospace and defense) at global consultancy KPMG.

The next fiscal is expected to witness a healthy growth on the back of expected reforms in ATF and MRO taxes, growth of tier II and III airports, reduction in airport charges, flights by new entrants like Air Asia and Tata Singapore and the likely abolition of the 5/20 rule, he added.

Meanwhile, Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) expects the Indian airports to handle million passengers year by 2023 fiscal.