Indian Airlines Make 73% Passenger Recovery In October, Go First Overtakes SpiceJet

Indian airlines continued their strong recovery into October. Traffic data for the month shows 8.98 million passengers taking to the skies, a 73% recovery compared to the same month in 2019. The month also saw another reshuffling of the top three domestic carriers, with Go First overtaking Vistara and SpiceJet to take the number three place.

Indian Airlines Getty
Indian airlines have been increasing flights in response to growing passenger counts and the government’s lifting of capacity limits. Photo: Getty Images

Strong month

Indian aviation is back on track. October marked a substantial jump in passenger numbers as passengers returned for the festival season across the country. After a deadly second wave of cases in April-May, passengers have returned in droves as vaccination numbers pick up across the country and cases remain low.

October 2021 saw 8.98 million passengers take domestic flights, up 70% from the last time last year and only 27% below 2019 levels (12.3 million). Airlines are now targeting an early 2022 return to pre-pandemic numbers, barring any other surges of infection in the near future.

IndiGo Air India
Total domestic flights peaked in the last week of October as travelers made their way home for celebrations. Photo: Getty Images

If flight capacity is any indication, airlines are set for a strong November too. While the jump in traffic will be lower than the 22% from September to October, airlines have added almost 10% more flights this month. So which airlines are seeing the biggest gains from the increasing traffic?

Another reshuffle

October traffic brought another reshuffle in the middle order of Indian airlines. Go First saw its market share surge to 9.8%, up 1.6% from last month, allowing it to take the third spot. SpiceJet made some gains too, climbing to 9% and taking fourth place in the market.

The two carriers’ growth came at the cost of Vistara’s, whose market share fell to 7.8% from 8.7% in October. This bumped the airline down to fifth place, ending its third-place honors in just a month. AirAsia India increased its market share to 6.4%, up 0.8%, and its strong showing since April.

Go First A320neo
Go First made the biggest gains this month, taking third place in the market. Photo: Airbus

The top two airlines remain the same. IndiGo stays first but saw its share slip by 2.7% to 53.5% this month, the biggest fall of any carrier this month. However, the airline retains its top spot by a considerable margin and is still ahead of its pre-pandemic share.

The government is now reporting separate data for Air India and Alliance Air, following the former’s acquisition by the Tata Group. Combined, both airlines saw a market share of 13% (11.8% and 1.2%), up 0.9% from the previous month. From December or January, the carriers will formally separate.

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Brisk months

October and November tend to be the busiest months for airlines, with traffic slowing ever so slightly in December. However, if pre-pandemic trends hold true, carriers can expect a strong end to the year and positive financials for this quarter. After a challenging year, airlines are finally seeing a recovery emerge and hopefully remain this time.

What do you think about India’s domestic recovery? Let us know in the comments!

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