The country's national carrier, Air India, flies less passengers per plane than any other airline in the country, according to latest government data that reinforced concerns that the state-owned airline slide continues.
Data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for the month of May showed Air India’s seat load factor —the average number of passengers per flight — was 61.2 per cent, compared to 73.9 per cent for Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines' 70.1 per cent, Air Deccan's 71.5 per cent and Indigo's 74 per cent.
An Air India official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the drop in seat load factor was because of a general slump in air travel in recent months.
Unlike other airlines, the official said, Air India is required to deploy its aircraft in the remote areas of the country.
“We are thinly spread across 60 airports in the country while other carriers deploy bare minimum capacity and achieve optimum commercial deployment of capacity,” he said.
Air India's market share has declined to 14.8 per cent in May from 15.1 per cent in the previous month.
According to DGCA, Jet Airways’ share fell to 20.5 per cent from 21.6 per cent and that of Go Air has also gone down to 4.6 per cent from 3.9 per cent. The market share of other airlines has either marginally increased or remained steady.
Passengers carried by domestic carriers between January-May have grown by 9.01 per cent. The total number of passengers carried till May this year was 1.92 crores while it was 1.76 crores in the same period last year.