First half of 2021 – Air India has dethroned SpiceJet as No.2 in market share

National carrier Air India has dethroned Spicejet as the number two in domestic market share, year to date. This is the second consecutive month that Air India has been number two in the market but with the latest numbers, for the first half of the year – Air India carried 42.58 lakh passengers as compared to 41.42 lakh by Spicejet.

Spicejet had a market share of 12.6% at the end of quarter one, as compared to 11.1% of Air India. The gap widened in quarter two with Spicejet securing 10.8% of the market while Air India moving up to 14.9%.

June air traffic report

The month of June saw 31.13 lakh passengers take to the skies. This was 47.18% more than the number in May – which saw the country battle a deadly second wave of COVID-19. June takes the traffic back to August-2020 levels. Spicejet recorded a load factor of 71%, followed by Go Air which stood at 70.9%. Market leader IndiGo had 62.7% while Vistara stood at 60%. National carrier Air India recorded a load factor of 58.4% – a huge hike considering it had a load factor of just 39.3% in the last month. Air Asia India had the lowest load factor amongst major carriers at 54.4% . Every airline improved their load factors over May.

Market share of IndiGo stood at 54.7%, followed by Air India at 16.5%. Spicejet and GoFirst stood at 9% and 8.3% respectively. Tata group carriers Vistara and AirAsia India ended June with a market share of 7.2% and 3.4% respectively. AirAsia India has struggled to maintain its market share this year and has shrunk rapidly since January.

Cancellations have also been on the higher side – indicating that airlines had opened flights for sale but did not fly them – most probably due to lack of passengers. 46.5% flights were cancelled due to commercial reasons.

In terms of passenger numbers, Vistara seems to have made most of the increased passenger numbers as its numbers went up from 0.97 lakh in May to 2.25 lakh in June.

Airlines have reported a very high On-Time Performance with the lowest being above 92%! While June has typically seen delays due to the weather, this year has been different since the traffic is at less than 50% levels. This ensures that even with bad weather, the capacity is enough to manage additional movements.

How are things likely to move from here ?

The case count in the country has stabilised but it is unclear if it is the beginning of the third wave or a long tail of the second one. However, things are moving in the right direction to enable travel. Maharashtra, for example, has allowed people to travel without a need for RT-PCR if a person is fully vaccinated with some conditions. This is likely to boost travel to some extent. However, it is still a long way for travel to be back to pre-COVID19 levels.

Airlines have started reinstating flights and also launch new flights across sectors but they are largely driven by market needs in immediate period and not a long term market development

July has already seen traffic to be higher than June and within touching distance of 2 lakh passengers per day. It is unlikely that July will see an all-time high traffic post re-start. What needs to be seen is if the new minister in charge would mean a change in policy and the industry moves back to open market policy or the ministry continues with regulations on capacity and fares. We shall know that soon!

As for market share, Air India data most likely includes the numbers of fully owned carrier Air India Regional / Alliance Air – which is not up for sale and would soon be listed separately in such reports.

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