Emerging as a stand-out performer, India witnessed the highest growth of 23.3 per cent in domestic air travel demand worldwide in 2016 twice that of neighbouring China, according to IATA.
The global airlines’ grouping today said domestic India market topped the growth chart for the second year in a row with passenger volumes surging twice as that of China.
“Domestic air travel rose 5.7 per cent in 2016. Capacity rose 5.1 per cent and load factor was 82.2 per cent, up 0.5 percentage points over 2015.
“All major markets except Brazil showed growth, but India and China, with RPK expansion of 23.3 per cent and 11.7 per cent, respectively, were the stand-out performers,” the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.
Revenue Per Kilometre (RPK) is a measure of passenger volumes.
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Both India and China have been underpinned by additional routes and increasing flight frequencies, the grouping said, while adding that the latter is likely to continue this year.
Reflecting strong growth, Indian carriers flew nearly 100 million passengers on the domestic routes last year, as per latest data from aviation regulator DGCA.
To boost the domestic aviation sector, the government is working on various initiatives, including upgradation of airports as well as enhance regional air connectivity.
With respect to India, IATA said it has not all been positive news over recent months.
“… seasonally-adjusted traffic trend slowed in the second half from its stellar upward trajectory and business confidence has fallen following the withdrawal of large- denomination banknotes in November,” it said.
In November 2016, the government scrapped old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes as part of continuing efforts to crack down on illicit fund flows. The move has impacted the economy, including travel segment.
On India, IATA also said airlines are scheduling strong flight frequency growth in 2017, which will translate into time savings for passengers and will have the same stimulatory impact on demand as a cut in fares.
Globally, passenger traffic demand grew 6.3 per cent last year — much higher than the ten-year average annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent.
International passenger traffic alone rose 6.7 per cent in 2016.
“Air travel was a good news story in 2016. Connectivity increased with the establishment of more than 700 new routes. And a USD 44 fall in average return fares helped to make air travel even more accessible.
“As a result, a record 3.7 billion passengers flew safely to their destination. Demand for air travel is still expanding,” IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said.