India’s air traffic doubles in 6 years

India’s domestic air traffic nearly doubled to 117 million passengers in 2017 with 100 flights taking off every hour compared with 67 in 2011.

India’s airlines flew 117.18 million passengers in 2017 compared with 59.87 million in 2011. They also registered an 18% growth over the 99.88 million passengers who flew in 2016.

Going forward, the feat of doubling air traffic at the same rate will be difficult because growth will be hampered by infrastructure issues. Plus, overall costs have gone up in the past decade.

Air India, InterGlobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd-run IndiGo, SpiceJet Ltd, Jet Airways (India) Ltd and GoAir were able to fly fuller flights in 2017—flights were 86.1% full in 2017, compared with 75.5% in 2011.

Besides, the capacity deployed by airlines rose 68% during these years.

Another clear trend that has strengthened during these years is the shift to low-fare airlines.

Jet Airways group had the highest market share at about 27% in 2011, IndiGo was at about 17%, followed by Air India at 15%, Kingfisher Airlines at 14% and SpiceJet and GoAir had about 6% each.

In 2017, IndiGo had about 39.6% market share, Jet Airways group had 17.8%, Air India 13.3%, SpiceJet 13.2%, GoAir 8.5% and Vistara and AirAsia 3.5% and 3.7%, respectively.

Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines and M. Thiagarajan’s Paramount Airways and Air Costa went belly up during these years.

Vistara, AirAsia India and TruJet are the new start-ups, while G.R. Gopinath’s Air Deccan restarted regional flights late last year.

India has close to 500 planes in service and about 800 planes on order and is set to become the third largest aviation market by 2025, overtaking the UK, the International Air Transport Association said in a report in October.

China will be the top market, followed by the US.

Besides infrastructure woes like lack of flight slots and aircraft parking bays at some major airports, the analyst quoted above said airlines will be worried about a rally in fuel prices.

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