Domestic passenger traffic growth recovered in May, with rival carriers taking over Jet Airways’ fleet to cash in on the peak season demand. A total of 12.2 million passengers booked air travel in May 2019 compared with 11.8 million during May 2018, up 2.9% year-on-year, according to the data released by directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday.
The passenger traffic had contracted 4.5% y-o-y in April for the first time in at least five years owing to complete grounding of full-service carrier Jet on April 17. The ministry of civil aviation allocated the vacant airport slots of Jet to rival carriers for operations. Airlines such as SpiceJet were quick to induct aircraft from Jet’s grounded fleet to cater to the holiday season rush.
Experts pointed out that domestic airfares have moderated compared with the sharp rise in ticket prices immediately after Jet’s grounding. “The fares have dropped by 7.5% in June compared with April and May this year. Consequently, our data also indicates a pick-up in overall flight bookings currently,” a MakeMyTrip spokesperson said.
According to analysts, Jet had around 1,000 landing and parking slots at various airports with majority being in Delhi and Mumbai. These were allotted to other carriers — SpiceJet, IndiGo, Air India, Go Air, Air Asia and Vistara — to fill vacant capacities. In terms of market share, budget carrier IndiGo has been the biggest beneficiary of sharp fall in domestic capacities. Its market share stood at 49% in May 2019, up from 40.9% exactly a year ago. Gurugram-based SpiceJet lapped up 14.8% share of the domestic passenger traffic — its highest-ever since the turnaround of the carrier more than four years ago. The airline had reported 14.9% market share in November 2014.
While national carrier Air India flew 13.5% of the domestic passengers in May, low-cost carrier GoAir got 11.1% of the domestic traffic pie. Tata Sons’ joint venture airlines AirAsia and Vistara also gained market share in May, which stood at 6.3% and 4.7%, respectively. All major scheduled carriers witnessed high seat occupancy on aircraft between 85-93.9%.
Domestic passenger traffic growth has been moving in the slow lane since January 2019 due to higher fares and grounding of aircraft by Jet. The market has increased by 2.6% y-o-y in the current calendar year. Aviation consultancy firm CAPA India has projected less than 5% y-o-y growth for the domestic market in FY20.