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The nightly aircraft line-up tail parade at the apron of Kempegowda International Airport Bangalore
The nightly aircraft line-up at the apron of Kempegowda International Airport Bangalore

India’s domestic air passenger traffic and airline performance for March 2015

We invite you to please read all the way to the bottom. We have introduced a new style for this monthly report and seek your inputs.

India’s domestic air passenger traffic statistics for the month of March 2015, show some curious numbers, while by and large maintaining the status-quo.

Passengers carried

Domestic air passenger traffic for the first calendar quarter surged a significant 20.75% from 15.381 million to 18.546 million. Traffic for the month of March 2015 was 6.285 million up 18.85% from 5.288 million in March 2014.

  • IndiGo remains king of the hill with 2.286 million passengers carried in the month.
  • Despite closing out its low cost operations, the Jet Airways group continues to operate flights under its low cost operating permit IATA code S2, in addition to the mainline airline permit, IATA code 9W. The group has lifted its performance and continue to hold second place which it wrested from low fare carrier SpiceJet.
  • National carrier Air India continues in third place.
  • Despite emerging from its winter of financial discontent, SpiceJet continues to show the after-effects of its massive fleet down-sizing, and this will continue for some time. financial problems
  • Curiously AirAsia India showed a decline in sheet passenger numbers. The airline has been suffering from staffing and despatch reliability issues. Clearly all is not well here.
  • The newly launched Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture Vistara is progressing slowly but steadily. When comparing the passengers carried during its initial three months of service, Vistara (in purple) is ahead of the other Tata promoted airline AirAsia India (in red) which commenced operations in June 2014.
India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 - Passengers carried
India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 – Passengers carried

Market share

Market share numbers for the last 12 months continue the trend of IndiGo and Jet growing at the expense of SpiceJet. Air India and GoAir are more of less steady with a few monthly variations.

India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 - airline market share
India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 – airline market share

Passenger load factors

Passenger load factors (PLF) represent the percentage of seats the airlines fill with revenue paying passengers.

  • Across the industry PLF fell in March, with the Jet group retaining the top spot.
  • Despite all its financial woes, SpiceJet maintained its 80%+ performance for the ninth consecutive month.
  • Market leader IndiGo and Air India fell dramatically from the 80% bracket into the 70% range.
  • AirAsia India continued its poor performance and the bottom seems to have opened up under Air Costa.
  • Vistara in purple seems to be having a torrid time, filling just half of its aircraft. Does the airline need to re-evaluate its cabin strategy? or has the value proposition not yet reached the market? Share your thoughts via a comment.
India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 - passenger load factor
India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 – passenger load factor

Complaints

For the first time we have decided to analyse complaints on a historic basis, and all is not well in the Indian skies. Passenger complaints are showing an upward trend over the last nine months.

  • Market leader IndiGo and minnow Air Costa seem to be the most liked airlines, recording the lowest numbers of passenger complaints.
  • National carrier Air India has improved even though it appears to be the perennial laggard with between three and two complaints per 10,000 passengers carried.
  • Despite claims of a passenger first focus, Jet Airways seems to have slumped in to a mediocre performance bracket.
  • AirAsia India which started well seems to have lost the plot along the way. As its flight delays and cancellations have risen, so have the complaints.
  • It is a similar story with SpiceJet whose complaints rose along with flight cancellation with its increasing financial troubles and decreasing fleet.
  • Eye brows are rising at the steadily declining performance of GoAir. Was the medical absence of CEO Giorgio De Roni a contributor? and now with his departure what is the future for this otherwise good airline? Is our satirical article of Vistara acquiring GoAir not as much a fantasy?
India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 - passenger complaints
India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 – passenger complaints

Flight cancellations

It appears reliability of flights is the dominant expectation of passengers. The complaints seem to follow the flight cancellation rates.

The cancellation rates for the past nine months also show the dominance of New Delhi in the Indian air travel business. As the winter fog season rolled in, the flight cancellations of airlines in January and February sky-rocketed.

  • The financial woes and massive fleet shrinkage exploded SpiceJet’s cancellation rates for November and December right off the graph. The airline recorded between 500% and 1,000% the average cancellation rates.
  • AirAsia which had zero flight cancellations since its inception, suddenly came off the rails in November and has been unable to improve its performance by and large. It is costing the airline in reputation, and ultimately in business.
  • GoAir and IndiGo both are consistently reliable, though both of them did face some hiccups during the winter season.
India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 - flight cancellations
India domestic air passenger statistics March 2015 – flight cancellations

Share your thoughts

We are changing the format of this monthly statistical reporting. The numbers are there for all to see. It is the analysis on reasons behind the numbers that makes the story, and to this end, we invite our many knowledgeable readers to please contribute and share your thoughts via a comment. We also solicit comments on the new style. Is it to your liking? How can we improve?

Thanks in advance.

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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