The seasonal gloom that usually dries up traffic in the Indian skies every monsoon seems to be over.
For the first time, the rain-soaked months of July to September saw a significant surge in domestic fliers, an increase that even beat the peak summer rush, data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) show.
Between July and September this year, 2.51 crore people took domestic flights, compared to 2.45 crore from April to June — the established holiday season. In the January to March period, 2.30 crore took flights within India.
Impulsive short holidays induced by off-season ticket sales triggered the trend.
So, while the traditional holiday month, May, recorded 86.69 lakh fliers — making it the highest this year — monsoon months of July (85.08 lakh), August (83.81 lakh) and September (82.30 lakh) were close competitors.
“Domestic airfares have been at their lowest through July, August and September this year, compared to the summer peak season. This is because of the continued low oil prices and an increase in capacity by both new entrants and the incumbent players,” said Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer, Yatra.com.
“Airlines announced sales, further driving down fares and fuelling strong growth of over 23% in the year on year passenger numbers. A rise in railway fares has also led to increased shift in passengers from rail to air.”
Domestic travel has been on the rise since 2014, a year when flash sales of air tickets became frequent. While the 2014 monsoon saw 1.67 crore fliers, compared to 1.70 crore that summers, fliers’ volumes were at a par last year. Both the second and third quarters saw approximately 2.02 crore fliers.
“This was primarily because of three reasons: change in consumer behaviour with respect to making last minute holiday plans and travel bookings, airline sales that end up offering the lowest fares of the year around these months and an overall high growth rate of air travel market size,” said Himanshu Periwal, vice president (Growth) travel portal Ixigo.com.