New Delhi: Domestic airlines carried almost 25% more passengers in the three months ended 30 September, bringing a measure of relief for carriers hurting from losses that mounted in the face of an economic downturn.

Airlines carried around 10.73 million passengers in July-September, compared with 8.61 million in the same period last year, according to data released by Directorate General of Civil Aviation, or DGCA. “For the first time in last one-and-a-half years, the (quarterly) domestic passenger traffic has shown positive growth," DGCA said.

Passenger traffic has risen year-on-year since June after falling steadily for many months as slowing economic growth deterred air travel. Month-wise, airlines flew 3.5 million passengers in September, compared with August’s 3.63 million and 3.59 million in July.

Graphics: Yogesh Kumar / Mint

“Broadly, this growth is coming at significant yield dilution. The yields have been the lowest in two years," he said. The airlines could lose money in the three months ended September, Kaul added.

Passenger yield is the average fare paid by travellers to fly one mile, excluding government taxes and fees that make up a substantial portion of the ticket price.

According to data for September, Jet Airways (India) Ltd, together with its subsidary JetLite, lost market share in a month when its operations were disrupted by a week-long pilots’ strike. Its market share slipped 2.9 percentage points to 23.5%.

Gaining traction were other airlines such as Kingfisher Airlines Ltd with a 23.3% market share followed by Air India at 17.5%, IndiGo at 14.3%, SpiceJet at 13.2% and GoAir at 5.8%. Paramount Airways stayed put at 2%.

Air India’s market share improved marginally over August despite a pilots’ strike that disrupted several of its flights.

Average on-time performance of airlines for the month of September was 82.9%, compared with 83.6% and 79.8% in August and July, respectively.