Jet freefall hits domestic air pax volume

Mumbai: Even with the month of March posting the lowest growth rate in many years, domestic air passenger volume grew 14.25 per cent to 171.25 million in fiscal 2019 over the previous year, according to data from the DGCA. In FY18, the passenger volume was at 146.84 million.

In March, air traffic though stayed flat at 0.14 per cent to 11.59 million passengers up from 11.58 million a year ago. Data from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) showed that the low numbers were largely due to the huge capacity reduction following the troubles at Jet Airways in the month.

Budget carrier IndiGo continued to be the largest player with a market share of 46.9 per cent ferrying 54 lakh passengers during the month, while its closest rival SpiceJet was a distant second with 13.6 per cent traffic pie as its ferried 15.81 lakh passengers in the reporting month.

The flat growth in traffic is a setback for the industry which had been clipping at over 20 per cent for more than four years in a row. Significantly, betting on the double-digits growth in the past four years, the government in its vision document released this January, has pegged the traffic volume to 1.1 billion by 2040.

Jet Airways, once the second largest airline after no-frills IndiGo, lost as much as nearly half of the market share at 5.37 per cent during March as against 10 per cent in the same period of last fiscal, according to the data.

Together with subsidiary JetLite, consolidated traffic of the now non-functional carrier was 6.71 lakh passengers in the month, whereas in the same period last year it had flown 15 lakh passengers.

Significantly, national carrier Air India, which has a number of aircraft on ground for quite some time now, had the dubious distinction of cancelling the most number of flights at 8.94 per cent of its scheduled departures followed by JetLite and new entrant Star Air, as per the data.

The national carrier, however, managed to get the third spot after IndiGo and SpiceJet in passenger volume, carrying 15.19 lakh passengers with a market share of 13.1 per cent in March. The passenger load factor in the month has shown falling trend compared to February due to the end of the vacation period.

SpiceJet continues to clock the highest average seat occupancy at 93 per cent while smaller rival GoAir topped the on-time performance chart for the sixth consecutive month in March at 95.2 per cent.

Cancellation & compensation
According to the DGCA data, SpiceJet had the most number of passengers affected due to the flight cancellations at 2,35,831 and the airline paid a compensation of Rs 42.11 lakh, while Jet Airways along with its arm JetLite, which cancelled a large part of its operations in March, had only 26,185 passengers affected by the flight cancellations, for which it paid a compensation of Rs 9.82 lakh. Air India, on the other hand, was forced to pay the higest amount of Rs 119.37 lakh to 2,508 passengers for denied boarding.