Big turbulence: IndiGo lone survivor as aviation sector suffers huge losses

By: | Updated: December 3, 2018 7:29 AM

Jet Airways and its low-cost subsidiary JetLite commanded a share of 14.9% and national carrier Air India had 12.2%.

GoAir had just 8.8% compared with an average of 9% for 2018.

Unable to cope with falling yields, all airlines except IndiGo are slowing down. While IndiGo topped up capacity by 30% year-on-year in October, the increase for the rest of the sector was a shade above 9% y-o-y. This was way slower than the 18.9% y-o-y rise seen in June and 12.3% y-o-y in August.

Analysts say IndiGo is leveraging a strong balance sheet to gain market share and remains unfazed by falling yields. The low cost carrier’s share rose to an enviable 42.8% in October 2018. In contrast, SpiceJet reported a share of 11.7%, its lowest in more than two years. GoAir had just 8.8% compared with an average of 9% for 2018. Jet Airways and its low-cost subsidiary JetLite commanded a share of 14.9% and national carrier Air India had 12.2%.

Jet Airways and Air India continue to suffer from basic working capital like payroll spend; Vistara and AirAsia are still in deep losses and SpiceJet and Go struggle to prevent balance sheet erosion,” analysts at ICICI Securities wrote recently.

SpiceJet upped capacity by just 5% y-o-y in October while Jet Airways and Air India added 3% y-o-y. Indigo’strong cash balances of `12,702 crore at the end of September, analysts say would help it gain share at a time when passenger traffic is growing. The carrier is expecting deliveries of A320neos, and has said it would ramp up capacity in FY19 by 30%.

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“We expect a year over year capacity increase in terms of available seat kilometres of 35% for the third quarter. For the full year, we expect capacity increase of 30%,” Rahul Bhatia, interim CEO, IndiGo, said at earnings call.

With oil prices down some 30% from peak levels to below $59 per barrel, and the rupee having retraced all the way back to Rs 69-70 levels, all airlines will breathe easier. However, Indigo will benefit the most, say analysts.

Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube said recently the airline was planning to concentrate capacity to better its yields. “The strategy includes concentration of capacity, enhancing frequency density and hub connectivity to better serve our corporate customers, which contribute to more than 45% of our revenue,” Dube said on the earnings call.

“In the current quarter (October-December), the average airfares are up as compared to last year. However, some of the rise in costs have been passed on passengers which was not the case in the previous two quarters,” Balu Ramachandran, Head- air and distribution, Cleartrip, said.
SpiceJet reported a loss of `389 crore in the September quarter while Jet Airways’ quarterly loss stood at `1,261 crore.

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