Air traffic plunges 11.5%, as air fares rise. Jet Airways group crashes almost 21%, IndiGo down 11%.

Talk about irony. In March this year, Dr. Dinesh Keskar and Bangalore Aviation were discussing the double digit, yet profitless growth occurring in the Indian airline industry.

Less than six months later, air traffic continues its fifth consecutive month of decline. Within, just the third calendar quarter, (second quarter of the fiscal year 2012~13), air traffic plunged over 11.5%, from 4.537 million passengers in July, to 4.018 million in September. August at 4.369 million passengers was down 3.7% from July, and September was down 8.03% from August.

No airline could avoid the contagion. Jet Airways group is down a whopping 20.63% for the quarter, dropping from 1.207 passengers in July to 0.958 passengers in September. Even market leader IndiGo which is steadily growing its fleet, is down a significant 10.77%. SpiceJet is down 8.04%, Air India down 5.95%, and Kingfisher down 9.62%. GoAir performed the best, losing 2.85% of its passengers.

Year on year for the nine month period January to September this year 43.839 million passengers travelled by air domestically, compared to 44.218 million last year. Down 0.9%.

For the month of September, IndiGo continued its market leadership, but it appears the fare war unleashed by Air India has gained it passengers at the expense of all other airlines. Air India even beat Jet Airways, carrying 0.775 million passengers compared to 0.729 million by Jet Airways.

Put the blame for this contraction on the significant increase in airfares over the last six months, driven by the collapse of Kingfisher Airlines. Airlines are reducing the excess capacity, which has already increased fares over 20%. For the winter schedule which commences October 28, Indian carriers will fly 20% less flights than last year. 10,935 vs. 13,541 flights per week. Experts, expect air fares to rise another 10%~15% during the winter season which is also highest in terms of demand.

No airline crossed a passenger load factor of 70%, even the traditional leader IndiGo which used to regularly be in the top of the eighties or low nineties.

How will this capacity decrease impact passenger numbers? What is your view? Share a comment.

Also, do you think such major fare increases bodes well for the Indian consumer? Share your thoughts.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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