Mumbai/New Delhi: India’s domestic airlines haven’t been able to draw passengers even after slashing fares in February.
The airlines flew 7% fewer passengers during the month when compared with the same period last year, data released on Friday by the directorate general of civil aviation shows.
The airlines cut fares by about half in February but the number of passengers declined to 3.33 million from 3.58 million a year ago, and only marginally higher than 3.32 million in January.
January to March is typically considered a lean season for airlines and travel is expected to pick up from mid-April.
Lion’s share: An IndiGo aircraft at the New Delhi airport. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
Kingfisher Airlines Ltd claimed the largest share of the domestic aviation market, flying 27.1% of the passengers in February, beating rival carrier Jet Airways (India) Ltd, which had a 25.4% share.
In the low-fare category, IndiGo, run by InterGlobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd, continued at the top of the list with 13.2% market share. It also claimed the highest seat occupancy overall at 82%.
Air India’s seat occupancy in February was 66.3% while that of Jet Airways was 68.7% and Kingfisher Airlines 74.3%. Low-fare carrier SpiceJet had an occupancy of 78.5%, JetLite was at 74.2% and GoAir 66.0%.
SpiceJet’s chief executive Sanjay Aggarwal said the numbers were not a “surprise one way or the other”. He said the airline was waiting for summer bookings to start to assess demand. It was difficult to gauge forward bookings with too few early reservations, he added.
According to a Thursday report by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, an aviation consultancy, passenger loads for low-fare carriers improved in February, but as up to 40% of these seats were sold through promotions, the yields remained under pressure.
“With fares now increased again, traffic for March is expected to remain weak. Demand is proving to be relatively unresponsive to price stimulation–at least at a level that is viable,” it said in the report.