Passengers are seen at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. Photo: Reuters
Passengers are seen at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. Photo: Reuters

After nearly six years of continuous growth, India’s domestic air passenger traffic registered its sharpest decline in April. It fell 4.5% in April to 10.9 million flyers, from 11.5 million in April 2018, according to data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Meanwhile, the country’s leading domestic carrier IndiGo now commands nearly half of the local market. It rose 3 percentage points to 49.9% and benefited the most from the closure of Jet Airways and grounding of SpiceJet’s Boeing 737 Max fleet.

All other airlines, except SpiceJet, reported gains in market share during the month. Air India is now the second-largest carrier, the title earlier held by Jet Airways, with a market share of 13.9% in April as against 13.1% in March. SpiceJet saw a decline in market share at 13.1% for April, after 13.6% in March.

GoAir improved its market share to a double-digit figure of 10.8% in April after 9.9% in March. Vistara currently has 4.7%, while AirAsia held a 6.2% share for April.

Domestic air passenger volumes, which had been growing at a double-digit rate since September 2014 for 52 months, first witnessed a minor slip in January, when the figure came down to 9.1%. During the month Jet Airways suffered a worsening cash crisis and IndiGo faced a shortage of commanders.

In February, Jet Airways, which had a fleet of 119 aircraft, started grounding its planes by half a dozen every week until it shut down operations on April 17.

As for SpiceJet, safety concerns about the Boeing 737 Max aircraft and its worldwide ban, forced the airline to ground 12 planes. It had to add old planes on lease to tide over the crisis.

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