India witnesses highest ever month-to-month home flyers in March

NEW DELHI: Indians are flying like never before. March 2018 saw one-crore-sixteen-lakh people flying within the country, the highest ever monthly figure for domestic air travel, and 28% more than the 90.5 lakh who did so in same month last year. In fact, each month of the January-March quarter this year has seen over a crore with so far almost 3.4 crore people travelling within India by air.

The crore plus domestic traffic of March is the sixth month in a row that the same has been recorded. This January had witnessed one-crore-fifteen-lakh domestic flyers, which is now the second highest monthly figure. These records could have been shattered by a long margin but for a severe airport infra crunch in India’s big airports with places like Delhi and Mumbai struggling to accommodate even one new flight as they are operating at capacity.

The highest-ever number of March 2018 led to airlines recording very high aircraft occupancy on domestic flights which ranged from SpiceJet’s 95% to AirAsia India’s 82% (among big airlines). While these big airlines are doing well, a cause for concern in the DGCA domestic air travel data released for March 2018 on Wednesday is the over 70% flight cancellation rate of Air Deccan and Air Odisha — which belatedly started regional flights recently. Not surprisingly, the maximum passengers complaints (percentage wise) according to the regulatory data was against these two airlines.

The on time performance (OTP) at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad for different airlines last month was at: 84.1% for IndiGo; 83.9% SpiceJet; 83% Vistara; 76.5% Air India (domestic); Jet 75.2% and GoAir at 74.8%. Mumbai’s severely constrained airport, where landing or taking off on time is a rarity due to perpetual congestion both on ground and in air, was the place (among the four metros) where these airlines recorded least punctuality — ranging from SpiceJet’s 66.3% to Vistara’s 53.6% at Mumbai’s CSI Airport.

IndiGo had 39.5% domestic market share in March, 2018, followed by Jet at 16.6%; AI at 13.4%; SpiceJet at 12.7%; GoAir at 9%; Tata JV airlines at 8.3% and others at 0.5%.

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