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NEW DELHI: Indian airlines carried 5.27 million passengers in October, down 57% year-on-year, as a relentless rise in covid cases has kept appetite for travel in, according to data released by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Passenger traffic, however, rose sequentially with more people taking to the skies as they travelled for the festive season. Scheduled commercial airlines had flown 3.94 million passengers during September.

The government also allowed airlines in India to sell seats up to 60% of an aircraft’s capacity on domestic flights during September, up from 45%, boosting travel. As of now, aircraft are allowed to fly at 70% capacity. Scheduled international commercial flights, however, remain suspended at least till 30 November.

Passenger load factor (PLF) of major scheduled commercial airlines was at 61-74% during October, higher than the 57-73% reported during the previous month. But this data print was also way below the 76-90% PLF recorded by airlines during October last year. PLF, or load factor, measures the capacity utilization of transport services, including airlines.

During October, India’s largest airline IndiGo recorded a 55.5% market share and a 68.2% load factor. It carried 2.93 million passengers during the month.

SpiceJet, with a market share of 13.4%, registered a 74% load factor, ferrying 0.70 million passengers during the month.

Air India’s domestic load factor was at 62.1%, with a market share of 9.4%. The national carrier ferried 0.49 million passengers during the reporting month.

Vistara, the joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, reported a load factor of 65.2% and a 6.4% market share, while AirAsia India, a Tata Sons-AirAsia Berhad venture, reported 63% load factor and a 7.1% market share during the period.

GoAir, which is controlled by the Wadia Group, reported 61.8% load factor and a 7.5% market share. During October, Vistara carried 0.34 million passengers, while AirAsia India 0.37 million passengers and GoAir carried about 0.40 million people.

Around 49.33 million passengers were carried by domestic airlines during January-October compared with 118.21 million in the year-ago period, registering a decline of 58.3%.

During September, Air India cancelled 11.06% of its flights, while the overall cancellation rate of scheduled domestic airlines was at 2.6%. Most cancellations were due to operations and commercial reasons.

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