The month of March has been significant in domestic aviation business for two reasons. Not only has air travel demand picked up after 11 continuous months of decline last month, Air India has managed to surpass IndiGo in seat factor (which means number of occupied seats in an aircraft), also after many, many months.
The good news first. A slew of price cuts by airlines have perhaps stimulated the domestic market since month on month traffic grew by 1.58 percent to 51.81 lakh (51.08 lakh in February). But the overall decline continued since in the first quarter of this calendar year, traffic declined by almost 3 percent to 152.12 lakh (156.47 lakh). If the demand surge in March continues for the next few months, domestic aviation may just see growth returning. Seen by itself, the month on month growth in March is not much. But considering a month on month decline continuously since May 2012, it is a sure sign of some life returning to domestic aviation.
Now lets come to Air India, which has been much in news for the last few days though not for its performance. According to data released by the DGCA, the airline reported the highest domestic load factor in March, even ahead of IndiGo which usually manages to fill more of its aircraft than any other airline.
25/04/13 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post