Wednesday, March 23, 2016

February 2016: Performances of Indian carriers in domestic aviation market

by Soumen Mukherjee
Airlines in India together carried a total of 74.76 lakh (7.47 million) passengers in the domestic sector in February 2016. Continuing its dream run with above 20% year on year growth rate, the domestic aviation had handled 151.31 lakh passengers with 23.41% growth during January-February 2016 over that of the same period a year ago. While the MoM growth rate for the month of February was at 24.27%. While IndiGo maintained and further consolidated its top position in terms of domestic market share, SpiceJet continued to outperform others in terms of load factors with above 90% PLF for 10 straight months and Vistara topped the on-time performance charts once again for 7 straight months. Among the highlights, 2016 being a leap year, February got 29th day and perhaps that reflected in the airlines increased passenger figures. In February 2016, all airlines except Air Costa has increased their Available Seat Kilometers (ASKM), and number of passenger carried compared to that of February 2015.  

Among the 'old' airlines SpiceJet continued to record the highest MoM growth in terms of passenger volumes as it had drastically reduced its capacity in early 2015 following December 2014 financial crisis. Although SpiceJet once again slipped below the million monthly passengers which it had achieved in January 2016 after a gap of 14 months. IndiGo, the market leader in terms of market share, recorded more than 20% MoM growth in its February passenger numbers, carried 27.54 lakh passengers which is all time high for the month of February. But still short of its lifetime high of 27.69 lakh passengers in May 2015 despite the fact IndiGo had added capacity during this period. While Jet Airways and Air India came at second and third position respectively, recorded moderate growth in passengers numbers over that of February 2015; GoAir continued to record double digit MoM growth in February 2016 as well as a result of better capacity utilization as it had not added new capacity during the period.

Among the 'new' carrier Vistara recorded highest MoM growth rate in its monthly passenger numbers at 351.5%; While AirAsia India too more than doubled its monthly passengers in February 2016 compared to that of February 2015; Despite operating a smaller fleet compared to that of Vistara, AirAsia India continued to record higher monthly passengers than Vistara. Air Costa was the only airline which actually registered a negative growth in its passenger numbers which saw 8.06% MoM decrease in its February 2016 passenger figures due to reduction in its fleet size which is expected to be compensated in the coming months as the airline added the third E-190 in its fleet recently in March 2016. Both TruJet and Air Pegasus had not commenced their operation back in February 2015; 

In February 2016, almost all 'old' airlines, except SpiceJet, have lost market share compared to February 2015; While IndiGo maintained its leadership position with 36.8% market share in February 2016 which is almost similar to that of February 2015 and higher than its market share in recent months, back in October 2015, IndiGo had recorded 36.8% market share but it is more than 2.0 percentage point down from its lifetime high 38.9% which it had recorded in May 2015; Jet Group as expected came second with 21.2% (combined market share of Jet Airways and Jet Lite) but it is down more than 2 percentage point than its February 2015 (24.3%) market share. But there exists a steady gap of around 15% between No 1 IndiGo and No 2 jet Airways; National carrier Air India continued losing its market share and achieved 15.4% market share in February which is around 2.5 percentage point down from its February 2015 (17.8%) market share. SpiceJet, the only 'old' airline to improve its market share on YoY basis, is once again coming close to Air India and becoming a potential contender for the third position, SpiceJet had already achieved third largest market share back in summer 2014 but following its December 2014 financial crisis its market share went down sharply. In February 2016, SpiceJet recorded 13.1% market share compared to 15.4% by Air India, although it will not be easy to close the 2 percentage point gap given the large passenger base but SpiceJet is once again showing potential to become the third largest airline in the domestic market. GoAir achieved a steady 8.0% market share in February 2016 although it is less than its February 2015 market share of 8.9%; 
Among the 'new' airlines all airlines have increased their market share except Air Costa. While AirAsia India and Vistara almost maintained their lifetime best market share of December 2015, Air Costa saw a decrease in its market share from 1.0% in February 2015 to 0.8% in February 2016; Two new regional carriers TruJet and Air Pegasus both achieved 0.3% market share in February 2016;

As usual Vistara occupied the top position in the OTP chart of February 2016 as well. It is best performing airline in terms of on-time performance for seven straight months. in February 2016, AirAsia India showed great improvement in its on-time performance as its OTP crossed 75% mark after a long gap, during the entire winter months it continued to report very poor (below 60%) OTP result. While IndiGo was at number 2 with 82.9%, it was closely followed by Jet Airways at 82.2% for the month of February. Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir all three reported almost similar performance where little more than 20% of their flights had missed on-time performance.

SpiceJet has become the king of loads in Indian domestic aviation sector, it had continued to record more than 90% passenger load factors for 10 straight months. February being part of lean season in India, all other airlines (except IndiGo which added new capacity) carried less passengers compared to previous month and when we compare their PLF result most airlines saw a decrease in their load factors on YoY basis barring few airlines like Vistara, Air Costa. Vistara has improved a lot in terms of PLF over the last year but still short of its lifetime high of 77.6% in December 2015; As of February 2016, Vistara is still at the bottom position in the PLF chart. 


  1. My personal experience with Vistara was very good. They should come out of the Singapore Airlines shadow and project themselves as more of Indian airline. Currently most of the Vistara pax seemingly from Tata group companies as I observed in my flight. One of the good features like matching international baggage allowance is what attracted me to Vistara as I just don't like any airlines that poses itself as Premium like Singapore airlines (their premium economy is nothing like BA or Lufthansa product).

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