India’s air traffic grows 23%, to overtake UK by 2026

Nearly 8.23 million passengers flew in September 2016 compared with 6.66 million in September 2015, aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju tweeted on Wednesday


Traffic data showed airlines were able to still fill up their planes by offering cheaper fares in the lean season. Photo: Hindustan Times
Traffic data showed airlines were able to still fill up their planes by offering cheaper fares in the lean season. Photo: Hindustan Times

New Delhi: India’s domestic air traffic grew 23.5% in September continuing its two-year run of double digit growth and is now expected to surpass the UK in a decade.

Nearly 8.23 million passengers flew in September 2016 compared with 6.66 million in September 2015, civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju tweeted on Wednesday.

“The passenger load factor (flight occupancy) in the month of September 2016 has almost remained constant compared to previous month primarily due to the end of tourist season,” aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) elaborated in its report.

The July-September period is considered lean season for domestic airlines which is followed by a peak in the October-December period, with festivals and New Year holiday travel boosting demand.

Traffic data showed airlines were able to still fill up their planes by offering cheaper fares in the lean season.

SpiceJet ran its flights 93.5% full followed by GoAir (89.4%), AirAsia India (82.8%), IndiGo (82.1%), Jet Airways (77.5%), Air India (79%) and Vistara (72.7%).

Vistara flew its flights most on time in the four key metros followed by SpiceJet, IndiGo, Jet Airways, GoAir and Air India.

IndiGo continued its market share dominance, cornering 40% of the market for the first time ever.

Such a high market share was common in early 2000s when Air India, Air Sahara and Jet Airways were the only options for Indian passengers.

Jet’s domestic market share in September was 18.6%, followed by Air India (14.7%), SpiceJet (12.5%), GoAir (8.3%), Vistara (2.5%) and AirAsia (2.3%).

Smaller airlines like Air Costa, Air Carnival and TruJet had the rest of the market in low single digits each. Operations of Air Pegasus remained suspended for the second month according to the data.

India will be among the five fastest-growing markets, after China and the US, in terms of additional passengers per year over the forecast period with 322 million new passengers among the total of 442 million flyers during the period (2035), International Air Transport Association (IATA) which represents 85% of the global airline traffic said on Tuesday.

IATA said it expects India to displace UK as the third largest aviation market by 2026.

10 years after that India’s air passenger traffic will grow to 442 million by 2035—a rise of 322 million passengers from the current numbers.

According to IATA, the five fastest-growing markets in terms of additional passengers per year over the forecast period would be China, the US, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Globally, the demand for air travel will nearly double to 7.2 billion passengers from 3.8 billion air travellers in the next two decades at an annual compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7%, it predicted.

“China will displace the US as the world’s largest aviation market (defined by traffic to, from and within the country) around 2029. India will displace the UK for the third place in 2026, while Indonesia enters the top ten at the expense of Italy,” IATA said in its forecast, “Growth will also increasingly be driven within developing markets. Over the past decade the developing world’s share of total passenger traffic has risen from 24% to nearly 40%, and this trend is set to continue.”

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