Hit by Covid-19 pandemic, country’s aviation sector yet to witness growth in passenger traffic
Indian airlines flew 7.734 million passengers in January, far lower than the 12.7 million they did a year ago as restrictions on flights, flying, and international travel (and travellers), all on account of the Covid-19 pandemic took their toll on the sector.
The Directorate General of Air Travel released domestic passenger data for the month of January on Thursday. In December, according to DGCA, airlines carried 7.32 million domestic passengers. That marked a 15% improvement over November.
In contrast, January has seen only a 5.5% growth over December. In December, DGCA allowed airlines to sell tickets up to 80% of an aircraft’s capacity, up from 70% the previous month. This stayed the same in January.
The average number of daily flights in January was around 2100, much lower than the average number of daily flights of around 3100 in January 2020, according to a report by Icra.
“Domestic traffic will not be able to go back to pre-Covid levels firstly because domestic traffic also has an international component. Many passengers land into Delhi or Mumbai, and then travel towards their destinations taking domestic flights,” said CS Subbiah, former chief executive officer of Alliance Air.
Subbiah added, “Currently we are operating maximum 100 (international) flights under the government’s scheme, which is way below the original international flight numbers. This international component towards domestic travel itself is around 20% or may be even more as not only Air India but also foreign carriers who have tie-ups with domestic airlines. Secondly, even though many states have smaller numbers, they are still asking travellers to produce test reports that they are not infected.”
According to Subbiah, things will improve only from the summer of 2022.
According to the DGCA report, the load factor (seats occupied to those available) of six major domestic airlines IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, Air India, Vistara and AirAsia India was between 65% and 70% in January.
DGCA said low-cost carrier IndiGo flew the most number of passengers (4.2 million).
IndiGo also recorded the highest on-time performance (OTP) in January with an average 93.7% of its flights from four metro airports -Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad -- departing and arriving on time.