Domestic air traffic growth during November fell to a 51-month low at 11% year-on-year due to combination of factors like a high base of last year during the same month, airlines charging higher fares in a seasonally strong travel period, and closure of a runaway at Delhi’s IGI airport. The slowest growth was recorded in August 2014 when the market expanded by 8.3% y-o-y.
A total of 11.64 million passengers took to the skies during last month as compared to 10.48 million in November 2017, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stated in the data released on Friday.
According to experts, average domestic fares were up 21% y-o-y during the Diwali month leading to a slowdown in the passenger growth. This was reflected in the lower passenger load factors (PLF) for all scheduled carriers – down between 2.5-9.6% y-o-y.
“The average ticket price during November 2018 was Rs 4,728 as compared to Rs 3,910 a year ago. The average fares were higher in October as well. That is why we have been witnessing fall in PLF for consecutive months,” Balu Ramachandran, head of Air and Distribution, Cleartrip, said.
The passenger traffic had grown at 13.3% y-o-y during October. India’s domestic air traffic has been growing at 19.2% y-o-y between January and November 2018 due to affordable fares and rising personal income.
A runway at Delhi airport, the country’s largest aerodrome, remained close for repairs between November 15-27 contributing to the slowdown. Nearly 100 flights were affected each day for 13 days at the IGI airport which handles around 4.3 million domestic passengers per month. Some flights were even cancelled by airlines.
“Last-minute airfares in November also surged up to three times on some key domestic routes due to the temporary closure of Delhi runway. The cancellation of flights by Jet Airways from metros and key airports also impacted passenger travel,” Alok Bajpai, CEO and co-founder, Ixigo, explained.
Full service carrier Jet airways continue to lose market share due to ongoing financial crisis. It reported its lowest market share in 5 years at 12,8%, carrying 1.48 million passengers during November.
In terms of PLF, low-cost airline SpiceJet continued to remain in pole position among all key scheduled carriers at 91.1%, down 4.6% y-o-y while market leader IndiGo recorded PLF at 84.9% down by 6.3% y-o-y.
National carrier Air India reported 6.2% y-o-y dip in PLF at 78.6% while Jet Airways flew with 82.1% passenger occupancy, down 5.9% y-o-y. Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, reported 9.6% y-o-y decline in PLF at 78.5% and Mumbai-based Go Air recorded PLF at 87.6%, down 2.6% y-o-y.The only exception to this trend was Air Asia which flew with flights 86.5% full, up 2.3% y-o-y.