Air India gains momentum in September, industry set up for a great winter!

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) declared the traffic statistics for September this afternoon. Domestic air traffic crossed the 1 crore mark again with 1 crore 3 lakh (103.55 lakh) passengers flying in September 2022. This is an increase of 2.14% over August. However, August had 31 days while September had 30 and thus the per day increase is slightly higher at 5.77% or roughly 18,000 passengers per day.

Only the first day of September saw less than 3 lakh passengers per day, with the last day of the month seeing the month’s highest numbers at 383,549 passengers. Overall the month of September saw a relatively higher load factor across airlines.

September was an interesting month in Indian aviation. It was the first full month of operations for Akasa Air and also the first month after a network rejig and addition by Air India. This was also the month when there was leadership change at IndiGo – the largest carrier by fleet and domestic market share in India.  

The Tata group of airlines occupied the top three spots in On Time Performance with Vistara at number one, followed by AirAsia India and Air India. IndiGo – the pioneer of touting OTP in Indian skies has been away from the number one position for six months now, with the last time it was on top was in March this year.

Read: August 2022: Passenger numbers cross the 1 crore mark again, no impact of capacity cap on SpiceJet

All eyes have been on the number two position and if Vistara can maintain it, it did though it came at an even slender margin than the previous month. Vistara has not been able to cross the 10% market share mark. 

In terms of market share, Air India and Akasa Air gained 0.7% each, AirAsia India gained 0.1% while IndiGo and Alliance Air remained unchanged. Go FIRST lost 0.7%, SpiceJet lost 0.6%. In terms of pure passenger numbers, Alliance Air, AirAsia India, Air India, IndiGo, VIstara, Flybig and Akasa Air carried more passengers than the previous month while Go FIRST and SpiceJet lost passengers. SpiceJet continues to be restricted to 50% of its operations. Full Service carriers had 18.8% market share in September.

With 78,181 domestic departures, airlines operated 4.67% more flights than August on a per day basis. On average, the daily flight count stood at 72% of approved summer schedule. 

Load Factor and Market Share

SpiceJet continued to lead the load factors charts with Vistara continuing to be neck to neck. Spicejet recorded 85.8% load factor while Vistara was second at 85.4%. Go FIRST at 83.2%, IndiGo at 81.4% and Akasa Air at 81.2% were the other carriers which crossed the 80% mark. Flybig recorded the lowest load factors at 54.7%.

IndiGo maintained its market share but no other carrier could cross the 10% mark with Vistara dropping in both loads and passengers from its peak which it recorded in July.

OTP and popular routes

Vistara topped the charts with 91% on time flights at four metros, with AirAsia India following closely at 89.8%. Air India pipped IndiGo and occupied the number three slot with 87.1%. IndiGo had 84.1% of its flights on-time at four metro airports. GoFIRST was last with just 63.1% flights being on-time at four metro airports.

Delhi – Leh, Mumbai – Hyderabad, Mumbai – Kolkata were some of the routes which saw seats being sold in the highest fare classes.

Outlook

October has been tremendous until now. The first half of the month has seen the highest ever passengers in Indian skies since May 2020 and with Diwali traffic yet to take off, it will only go up from here! Yet, we are still away from the pre-pandemic traffic and if the pandemic remains in control then December could well be the month when the pre-COVID numbers can be left behind.

Quarter end

The second quarter of the financial year is typically a weak quarter but airlines have managed to hold on to the traffic. Traffic in Q2-FY23 was down 7% over Q1-FY23. The Q1-FY23 had seen air traffic at 325.27 lakh as per DGCA. For Q2, the number stood at 301.74 lakhs. While the overall traffic went down by 7%, it wasn’t evenly distributed across airlines. IndiGo, Air India and Vistara gained market share in Q2, while Go FIRST and SpiceJet lost the market. In a shrinking market, losing the share further is always a challenging scenario. All eyes now shift to how October closes and the financial results of IndiGo and SpiceJet for Q2.

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