India’s Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which consolidates and announces key statistics for Indian aviation every month delayed the announcement for the month of February until today. The statistics announced today shows remarkable increase in the passenger’s on a month on month basis for February – traditionally a lean month. The additional passengers have come on the back of increased capacity from market leader IndiGo, tweaking of Jet Airways domestic network and sale strategy adopted by Spicejet after the operations started becoming relatively stable in the month of February.
Vistara – which started operations in January, still has a long way to go with Load factors touching 58%, a marginal increase over 45% it recorded in January. February was its first full month of operations. This has also led to the airline now having a 0.5% market share.
Jet Airways continues to perform well on the load factor front with being the table topper for second consecutive month. The airline has deployed some wide-body capacity in the market and the higher load factors show that this seems to be a good move. While the impact of lower load factors could be positive for Vistara – if the mix of passengers is right and more in the front cabin, the same may not be said for Jet Airways for the wide-body routes owing to higher operating cost.
Spicejet has gained the lost passengers with load factors showing a jump of 5% over January, reiterating that Indian passengers do not mind choosing a carrier if the cost is low. All the airlines had a better February than January, in terms of Load Factor – which was the case last year too.
IndiGo is leading the pack again for On Time Performance (OTP) front with an overall OTP of 83.8% while Air India remained last however with an improvement at 70.9%. Air Asia India whose OTP was counted only at Bengaluru reported comparatively better numbers at 65%, yet considering idle morning and evening slots on its aircraft would need a lot of improvement. Vistara with limited flights achieved an OTP of 99% at Delhi. The airline also had additional aircraft in its fleet.
The market share is now more skewed in favour of IndiGo, with the largest airline now cornering 37.1% market share, followed by Jet Airways at 24.3%. Air India was third at 17.8% followed by Spicejet and Go Air at 9.3 and 8.9 percent respectively. Smaller carriers Air Costa, Air Asia remained flat at 1% and 1.2% respectively.
Over last February, IndiGo’s market share grew by 7.5% with an increase in passenger count of 52% while Spicejet lost 8.7% market share with a loss in passenger count by 38%. Jet Airways which remained flat in terms of market share grew passengers by 23% over last February and Air India carried 11% more passenger despite losing 1.7% market share over last February.
The February operational data is a vindication that air travel in India increases with increase in capacity and lowering of fares. It is now for the airlines to see how best they can make money with volumes as more and more, sometimes unreasonable capacity is added in domestic skies in the summer schedule effective this weekend.
March has already seen more capacity from IndiGo and Vistara and April will bring some more from IndiGo, Vistara, Air Asia and Spicejet. I am expecting IndiGo to touch 40% market share in the peak season of May. Lets see where the battle is now headed as Air Asia and Vistara will announce some new routes in days to come.