Air passenger growth hits slow lane in March

Air passenger growth hits slow lane in March
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Domestic air passenger traffic growth managed to remain in the green in March growing flat or 0.14 per cent

Mumbai: Domestic air passenger traffic growth managed to remain in the green in March growing flat or 0.14 per cent, largely due to the huge capacity reduction following the troubles at Jet Airways in the month, show the monthly data released by the DGCA Monday.

The cumulative traffic of 11 domestic airlines stood at 11.59 million in March compared to 11.58 million passengers a year ago, as per the data.

The March numbers are a big setback to the industry which had been clipping at over 20 percent for more than four years in a row.

After a record run-rate in high double digits, traffic has been on a lower altitude in January when it grew 9.1 percent, first single digit growth in four years, and lost the momentum further in February when the incremental growth was capped at a low 5.62 percent.

The disappointing March numbers can most be attributed to the troubles that Jet had been facing and the resultant spike in ticket prices across other airlines.

The airline was finally grounded last week. Jet Airways, once the second largest airline after no-frills IndiGo, lost as much as nearly half of the market share to 5.37 percent during the month under review as against 10 percent in the same period of last fiscal.

Together with subsidiary JetLite, the consolidated traffic of the now non-functional carrier was 6.71 lakh passengers in month, whereas in the same period last year it had flown 15 lakh passengers on its own.

Budget carrier IndiGo continued to be the largest player with a market share of 46.9 percent ferrying 54 lakh passengers during the month, while its closest rival SpiceJet was a distant second with 13.6 percent of the total traffic pie carrying 15.81 million in March.

Significantly, the national carrier Air India, which has a number of aircraft on ground for quite some time now, had the dubious distinction of cancelling the maximum number of flights or 8.94 percent of its scheduled departures, followed by JetLite and new entrant Star Air.

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