Low-cost carriers IndiGo and Akasa made the most of the demand surge for air travel in April, when the number of domestic passengers flown per day not only went past pre-pandemic levels but also hit an all-time high in daily count.
Market leader IndiGo closed April with a seven-month-best share of 57.5% while Akasa Air, founded in August last year, ended the month with a share of 4%, according to data shared by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
IndiGo’s passenger load factor (PLF), or the average number of passengers carried, remained the lowest among India’s top three airlines (by market share) at 87.4%, with Vistara leading at 92.1%. SpiceJet retained its leadership position in the PLF ranking with 92.2%.
Tata group-controlled Air India struggled in April, with its market share dropping to a seven-month low. Market share of troubled airline Go First dropped to among its worst at 6.4%. SpiceJet, too, saw an erosion in share to 5.8%.
In on-time performance (OTP), Akasa retained the top position for the second consecutive month with 94%. IndiGo slipped to the third position at 89.6%, displaced by Air India at 91.1% in April. OTP is measured by the DGCA at four airports in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.
Wadia group-controlled Go First, which has grounded all its planes after filing for bankruptcy protection earlier this month, had its OTP languishing at the bottom of the table at 41.7%, even below government-controlled regional carrier Alliance Air.
The number of passengers carried during April jumped 22% year-on-year to 12.88 million — an average daily count of nearly 430,000. The growth was despite more than 70 aircraft being grounded during the month.
Suprio Banerjee, vice president and sector head, corporate ratings, Icra, said, “The airlines’ capacity deployment in April 2023 was higher by about 8% than in April 2022 and about 9% higher than pre-Covid levels of April 2019.”
The industry has reported healthy forward bookings for the current month because of the ongoing holiday period. But with Go First’s entire fleet grounded, air fares have jumped sharply, benefiting the rest of the players.
“In addition, supply chain challenges being faced by airlines, which include the availability of spare parts and engine issues, have recently plagued the sector, resulting in the grounding of certain aircraft for some airlines, thus impacting their overall capacities. This also negatively impacts the cash flow generation of the airlines, given the high fixed-cost nature of the business,” Banerjee said.