India’s domestic passenger traffic is in the midst of a strong rebound after a second wave decimated numbers. June saw total passengers rise by over 47% compared to May, a sharp turnaround. Load factors followed suit for most carriers, giving airlines a much-needed revenue boost after April and May. Let’s investigate this ongoing recovery.
Indian aviation is officially in the midst of a rebound. Data released by the DGCA this week shows passenger traffic in June rising to 3.113 million passengers, up 47% from May’s lows of 2.115 million. This data is in line with the increasing daily passengers we have analyzed in the previous weeks, and paves the way for a strong July too.
The passenger figures will be a relief for airlines, helping offset some losses in the second quarter, but not by much. Passenger load factors (PLF) in June jumped impressively for every major airline. SpiceJet retained its lead with a PLF of 71% (up from 64%), with GoAir right on its heels with 70.9% (up from 63.3%).
Market leader IndiGo’s load factors rose by 11.5% month-on-month to reach 62.7%. Air India and Vistara both saw a huge 19.1% increase in PLFs to 58.4% and 60%, respectively. AirAsia’s PLFs rose by 10% to hit 54.4%. Overall, this month was definitely a breath of fresh air for beleaguered airlines.
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While traffic increased in June, some airlines have struggled to increase capacity and capture the fresh demand. IndiGo’s market share slipped slightly to 54.7% (down from 55.3%) but placing it far ahead of any other carrier. Air India reprised its place as the second-largest domestic airline, albeit seeing a big fall in market share to 16.5% (from 20.3% in May).
Vistara is the standout of this month’s statistics. The carrier quickly deployed capacity to capture a 7.2% market share (up from 4.6%), its highest since February 2020. GoAir also increased its share to 8.3% (up from 6.5%) as traffic picked up.
Cash-strapped SpiceJet saw its market share falling to a new low of 9% (down from 9.4%). Since then, the airline has announced new routes and resumptions to snatch back its falling share and will be hoping that it can return to the double-digits in July and hopefully overthrowing Air India from the second-place position in the coming months.
More to come
After a rebounding June, July has also seen a consistent rise in passenger traffic, aiding airlines’ struggling finances. With no government support forthcoming, IndiGo and SpiceJet have both made plans to raise hundreds of millions to weather any third wave of cases and bolster their cash reserves.
Overall, the data from June supports estimated that India could recover to pre-second wave traffic levels by the end of 2021. This would be a big achievement for airlines, which in May, saw a tiny fraction of passengers. If this recovery will continue, remains to be known.
What do you think about India’s aviation recovery? Let us know in the comments!