India’s domestic air traffic declined by almost five per cent in January even though the overall global market showed an upswing with China becoming the second largest domestic market worldwide, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Tuesday.

“India’s domestic market was in negative territory with a 4.9 per cent decline in demand and 5.3 per cent capacity reduction,” global airlines’ body, IATA said in its analysis of the January air traffic results.

Without naming Kingfisher Airlines, it said the decline was caused by “one of the major domestic players” effectively exiting the market, apart from weak economic growth, rising infrastructure costs and impact of high fuel prices “exaggerated by excessive taxation.”

The IATA analysis showed that domestic air travel expanded by 1.1 per cent, slightly behind a capacity expansion of 1.4, while the passenger load factors averaged 76.4 per cent. However, “after seasonal adjustment, the load factor reached a record high, exceeding 80 per cent.”

China was the second largest market after the US for domestic air travel, it said.

On international air traffic, the IATA said it reflected “a continuation of the uptick in passenger travel that began at the end of 2012.” Overall, the demand was up 2.7 per cent. The average load factors stood at 77.1 per cent.

“Passenger travel is growing in line with business confidence levels. Recent months have seen some positive economic signs emerge in both the US and China, and the Eurozone crisis seems to have stabilized. Of course risks remain; the impact of US budget cuts has yet to play out and fuel prices are high,” IATA chief Tony Tyler said.

He also asserted that “the connectivity of the world’s largest economy being held captive to politics is not acceptable.”

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