March continued the gloomy news for the domestic airline industry in India, with a decline. For the month of March 2009 domestic passenger count stood at 3.15 million down from 3.32 million in February and 3.31 million in January.
Despite Kingfisher airlines continuing to be the largest domestic airline in India with almost 27% market share in March and 27.27% for the 1st quarter of calendar 2009, it has de-registered four Airbus A320-232s as per records of the DGCA. VT-ADS, VT-ADX, VT-DKW and VT-DKZ all of the erstwhile Air Deccan fleet. At least one of these aircraft is leased from GECAS and it is unclear if the de-registrations are a part of the dispute between the two organisations. Jet Airways has de-registered one Boeing 737-400 VT-JAR as part of its fleet upgrade process.
Load factors which spiked in February, largely driven by insanely low fares in late January and early February, dropped sharply in March as airlines realising their folly reverted back to somewhat normal fares.
Comparing the 1st quarters of 2008 and 2009, domestic passenger traffic has declined 12.3% from 11.19 million to 9.82 million. While the two major low cost carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet have made gains from a year ago, the two private full service carriers Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines have suffered the greatest drops. Kingfisher’s figures include an amalgamation of the erstwhile Air Deccan now Kingfisher Red, and are therefore, not fully reflective of the slowdown that has occurred in the full service Kingfisher Airlines.
GoAir which has suffered a major slowdown has added two new Airbus A320-214s VT-WAI and VT-WAJ to its fleet, IndiGo added an A320-232 VT-INX, and Air India added an A319-112 VT-SCO in March as per DGCA reports.
The good news, In the slowing economy, as passengers both business and leisure started looking for better bargains, IndiGo and SpiceJet have made steady progress and raised their market share almost 6 points.