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Domestic air traffic fell in April for the first time in 6 years

The last time traffic declined in India was in June 2013, which occurred after Kingfisher had crashed.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 23, 2019, 07.53 AM IST
Domestic Airlines
Indian carriers flew 11.3 million passengers locally in April, down about 2% from 11.5 million in the same month last year, according to data released DGCA.
Domestic air traffic in India--which prides itself for being one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets—fell for the first time in 6 years in April, the month that India’s oldest airline Jet Airways grounded operations.

Jet’s grounding however helped bigger rival IndiGo to control 50% of the Indian domestic market, followed at a considerable distance by Air India and SpiceJet.

Indian carriers flew 11.3 million passengers locally in April, down about 2% from 11.5 million in the same month last year, according to data released by the country's aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The last time traffic declined was in June 2013—3% to 4.86 million passengers, after Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines shut shop. Local traffic in March 2019 increased a tad to 11.60 million from 11.58 million in the same month the previous year. Traffic growth rate, till last year at robust double digits, had fallen to low single digits since February.


Jet grounded its operations on April 17, running out of money and failing to raise funds to stay afloat. It started grounded large swathes of its capacity in February. More than 800 daily flights were pulled out of the market, leading to a capacity cut, which ultimately shrank the market in April.

Jet’s key slots and several planes, deregistered due to non payment of lease rentals, have been allocated on a temporary basis to rival carriers. This will likely lead to an interesting reshuffle in market share in the coming months.

Meanwhile, IndiGo controlled 49.9% of the local flyers market in April, growing its share from 42.5% in January, when Jet was still operating a significant chunk of its capacity. Air India, at number 2, controlled about 14% up from 12.2% in January, while SpiceJet accounted for 13.1%.

Jet received the highest passenger complaints in April, 52.9 for every 10,000 passengers, primarily related to refunds for cancelled flights. On that matrix, the number of its peers was negligible: 1.6 for Air India, and less than 1 for others.

Domestic air traffic comparison:

2019 vs 2018 (in millions)

April 11.29 11.51

March- 11.60 11.58

Feb- 11.35 10.76

Jan- 12.51 11.46

How Indian carriers increased market share as Jet collapsed

Market share (%) April 2019 Jan 2019

IndiGo 49.9 42.5

Air India 13.9 12.2

SpiceJet 13.1 13.3

GoAir 10.8 8.7

AirAsia India 6.2 5.3

Vistara 4.7 3.8

Jet Airways 1 13.6

Source: DGCA

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