New Delhi, Feb 20 : India's domestic air passenger traffic growth slowed in January as airlines cancelled flights due to reasons like weather related events.
According to industry observers, seasonal factors too contributed to slowing of growth rate in January to 9.10 per cent on the year-on-year basis.
In December 2018, the number of passengers flown by domestic airlines grew at 12.91 per cent, while in November it increased 11.03 per cent.
As per the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data, last month passenger traffic grew to 1.25 crore from 1.14 crore in January 2018.
"Passengers carried by domestic airlines in January were 125.08 lakh against 114.65 lakh during the corresponding period of previous year, registering a growth of 9.10 per cent," the DGCA said in its monthly domestic traffic report here on Wednesday.
According to the data, low-cost carrier SpiceJet had the highest passenger load factor (PLF) -- a measure of capacity utilisation of the airline -- at 90.9 per cent, followed by GoAir with 87.4 per cent, AirAsia India 88.4 per cent and IndiGo 86.4 per cent in January.
"In January, we recorded 90.9 per cent PLF. This is the 46th month in a row that SpiceJet, among the major scheduled carriers, has flown with the highest loads in the Indian skies," said Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales and Revenue Officer, SpiceJet.
"Besides setting new benchmarks in global aviation, this record has helped us establish our pre-eminence as the most preferred airline, month-on-month," she said.
"The January PLF has shown a decreasing trend compared with previous month due to the end of tourist season," the DGCA said.
According to the data, GoAir led the industry with 75.9 per cent punctuality rate (on-time performance) at the four major airports of Bengaluru, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. It was followed by Vistara (75.3) and IndiGo (69.2).
The overall cancellation rate of scheduled domestic airlines for January stood at 1.81 per cent. Also, 917 passenger-related complaints were received last month.
IndiGo led the industry with the highest market share of 42.5 per cent, followed by SpiceJet (13.3), Air India (12.2), Jet Airways (11.9) and GoAir (8.7).
AirAsia India had a market share of 5.3 per cent, followed by Vistara (3.8), JetLite (1.7) and Trujet (0.5).
"Both air traffic and fares were affected in January largely due to weather and operational factors. Unexpected cancellations of flights by airlines also led to a substantial hike (20-25 per cent) in the last minute domestic airfares," said Aloke Bajpai, CEO and Co-founder, ixigo.
Fares for major domestic sectors would continue to see an all-time high throughout February, which would further affect the passenger growth, Bajpai said. Travellers can avoid high prices this season by booking tickets, preferably, 15-30 days in advance, he added.
According to Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com: "The percentage of growth has been affected due to unprecedented flight cancellations by various airlines, impacting the overall capacity and market growth".
"With January marking the end of the holiday season, there has been a dip in travel. But we expect a pickup in demand towards the end of February and March with the semester breaks in schools as well as long weekends like Maha Shivratri and Holi," Dhall said.