Jet fiasco dents India’s domestic air traffic volume

Passenger demand keeps falling in Middle East

GENEVA: The cutback in flight operations by the beleaguered Jet Airways in the past couple of months has impacted the air traffic volume within India (in March).

Later in mid-April, the Jet Airways operations were suspended.

The domestic air traffic has just managed to register a 3.1 per cent year-on-year growth during March compared with a February growth of 8.3 per cent and the five-year average growth pace of close to 20 per cent per month, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The IATA report on global passenger traffic results for March 2019 has shown the demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) rose 3.1 per cent globally, compared with the same month a year ago, which was the slowest pace for any month in nine years. IATA is of the view that the slowdown in growth witnessed in Indian domestic air traffic has been aggravated further by the disruptions at Mumbai airport owing to construction.

The lacklustre global air traffic has been attributed to the timing of the Easter holiday, which fell nearly a month later than in 2018. “On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the underlying growth rate has been relatively steady since October 2018 at a 4.1 per cent annualised pace. Capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) for the month of March grew 4.2 per cent and load factor dropped 0.9 percentage point to 81.7 per cent,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director-General and CEO.

International Passenger Markets

While internationally, all regions showed growth, the only exception was Middle East where carriers’ passenger demand fell 3 per cent in March, marking a second consecutive month of declining traffic. This reflects the broader structural changes in the industry which have been taking place in the region. Capacity increased 2.3 per cent, and load factor plunged 4 percentage points to 73.8 per cent.
European carriers saw March demand increase 4.7 per cent over March 2018, down from 7.5 per cent annual growth in February. “The result partly reflects falling business confidence in the Eurozone and ongoing uncertainty about Brexit. March capacity rose 5.4 per cent and load factor slid 0.6 percentage point to 84.2 per cent, which still was the highest among regions,” IATA observed.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic climbed 2 per cent in March, compared with the year-ago period, which was down from 4 per cent growth in February. However, results were stronger on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Capacity increased 4 per cent, and load factor dropped 1.6 percentage points to 80.1 per cent.
North American airlines posted a 3 per cent traffic rise in March compared with the year-ago period, which was down somewhat from 4.2 per cent year-on-year growth in February. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, traffic has been trending strongly upwards, however. Capacity climbed 2.6 per cent and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to 83.7 per cent.


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