Domestic air traffic sees a decline

Indicating an overall slowdown in economy that is now hurting the aviation segment despite airlines offering low fares during the lean season, India’s domestic air traffic declined considerably by over nine per cent in February compared with the same month last year, as on average over a quarter of seats remained vacant on flights in this period.

Revealing this in its latest global passenger traffic report, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found the domestic traffic in India dropping 9.1 per cent in February compared to a year ago. This decline occurred even when the global passenger demand rose 3.7 per cent compared to February last year.

The results also showed that the overall passenger load factor slipped to 74.5 per cent, implying that on an average only so much of seats in an airplane in India were filled up. Passenger load factor is a measure of how much of an airline’s passenger-carrying capacity or aircraft seats offered is used.

In addition to the slowing economy, the IATA said Indian carriers have been reducing capacity from the previously unsustainable levels. This capacity declined 7.5 per cent in February, it said. The decline in the domestic air traffic seemed to be an exception, as the global traffic results showed that the demand growth was accelerating on the back of stronger business confidence, particularly in emerging regions.

Since October last year, global passenger demand has been growing at an annual rate of nine per cent, which was almost double the growth trend over the first nine months of 2012. In the international market, Asia-Pacific carriers recorded an increase of 4.5 per cent during the same period.

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