Domestic air travel contracted for the first time in nearly five years after the collapse of Jet Airways and drop in capacity, which have led to a sharp hike in air fares. This April saw 1.09 crore domestic flyers — down 4.5% from 1.15 crore in the same month last year. Before suspending operations on April 17, Jet had been barely operating a few flights during the month, which had also seen 13 of SpiceJet Boeing 737 Max planes being grounded due to regulatory orders.
India had seen double-digit growth in domestic air travel for 52 straight months — from September 2014 (over the same month in 2013) to December 2018 (from the same month in 2017). This ranged from a peak of 29.3% growth in July 2015 to 11% in November 2018 (over the year-ago periods).
Grounding of Jet, B737 Max, an overall economic slowdown and sharp rise in fares even as capacity fell saw this dream run waking up to a rude reality. The growth in January and February 2019 fell to single digits and, by March, this was down to 0.14%.
Industry captains, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the negative trend would not last too long as Jet’s slots are being given to other Indian carriers. However, they added that the next government must focus on the aviation sector.