New Delhi: India’s airlines posted a drop of over 10% in passenger traffic during the fiscal year ended 31 March, hit by slowing economic growth and high oil prices that prompted them to raise fares.
Around 4.57 million fewer travellers took to the skies in the last fiscal, according to data released by Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Wednesday. Airlines carried 39.40 million passengers in 2008-09, compared with 43.97 million the year before. The decline follows rapid growth in the preceding years. India’s air passenger market increased fourfold, from 12.8 million in 2001 to 42.8 million in 2007.
“The major contributor to this drop is Q2 and Q3 in a year where we saw four months of very high fares and six months of slowed economic activity,” said Aloke Bajpai, chief executive officer of travel firm iXiGO.com. Crude oil price peaked in July 2008 at $147 (around Rs7,350) a barrel before starting to decline.
The second and third quarters of the fiscal saw a dip of 16.28% and 17.39% in passenger traffic year-on-year after an increase of 4.25% in the first quarter. The fall of 12.23% in the last quarter of the fiscal could have been much worse had the airlines not introduced cheap fares starting in January, said Kapil Kaul, India chief executive officer of Center for Asia Pacific Aviation.
Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, with a 27.2% market share for the last quarter of 2008-09, emerged the dominant carrier. It was followed by Jet Airways (India) Ltd and its subsidiary JetLite with 25.3% and Air India with 17%. IndiGo cornered 13.5%, SpiceJet 12.1%, GoAir 2.6% and Paramount Airways 2%.