New Delhi / Mumbai: India’s airline firms have reported a drop of around 15% in passenger traffic in April from the year ago, showing that a contraction in air travel that began end-2007 is nowhere near ending even as carriers head into a traditional busy summer season.
Around 580,000 million fewer travellers took to the skies in the first month of this fiscal, according to data released by Directorate General of Civil Aviation, or DGCA. Airlines carried 3.31 million passengers in April, compared with 3.89 million a year ago.
Distant recovery: Aircraft at New Delhi airport. Passenger travel will take some time to recover and a swing is unlikely in the short term. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
Passenger travel will take some time to recover and a swing is unlikely in the short term, an airline chief said. “We are still someway from it,” Paramount Airways Pvt. Ltd managing director M. Thiagarajan said, adding the focus for domestic carriers is managing the challenge posed by steep losses. “Passenger numbers is one thing, numbers with better yields (on ticket revenues) another.”
DGCA data shows Jet Airways (India) Ltd, together with its subsidiary JetLite (India) Ltd, has seen the biggest fall in passenger market share in April and now controls 24.1% from April 2008’s 29.6%.
Rival Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, with its low-cost service Kingfisher Red, too, has seen its share dip from 27.9% to 26% now. Air India, run by state-owned National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, has increased its share to 17.6% in the month gone by from 15.1% in April last year. Interglobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd’s IndiGo controls 13.7% now compared with 11.5% a year ago, SpiceJet Ltd holds 11.7%, up from 10.1%, and GoAirlines (India) Pvt. Ltd saw its share fall to 4.4% this April from 4.6%.
Given the shift of passengers towards low fares, Air India is also firming up plans to start an all-economy, low-fare service following Jet Airways’ announcement of plying some of its aircraft under a new low-fare brand Jet Konnect from 8 May, in addition to its ongoing JetLite service.
“We are now discussing the possibilities of having planes with single-class configuration and other dynamics,” an executive at the state-run airline said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorized to speak with the media. The firm operates India’s only international low-fare carrier Air India Express on West Asia and South-East Asia routes.