India's domestic airline market shows signs of life

India’s domestic airline market is showing signs of recovery as the country’s second wave of COVID-19 infections recedes.

Statistics released by the country's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) show domestic passenger traffic for June rose by 57% versus a month earlier. The June figure is still less than half the monthly totals recorded during the 2021 first quarter, but it still illustrates the beginning of a recovery.

Domestic load factors also rose in June compared to May. The six largest Indian carriers all saw load factors increase month-over-month, with the gains ranging from 7-19 percentage points.

IndiGo had the highest domestic market share in June, with 54.7% of passengers. Air India was second with 16.5%, after moving ahead of third-placed SpiceJet in May. SpiceJet experienced a bigger decline during the recent pandemic surge. SpiceJet was ahead of Air India during the first four months of the year.

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The four largest Indian LCCs—IndiGo, SpiceJet, Go First and Air Asia India—collectively accounted for 75% of domestic passenger traffic in June, and 79% for the second quarter.

The Indian government has imposed caps on domestic airline capacity and fares since the early days of the pandemic. The second wave of cases caused the government to reduce the limit to 50% of pre-COVID capacity on May 28. However, it raised the limit to 65% from July 5.

Photo credit: Yawar Nazir / Getty Images

Adrian Schofield

Adrian is a senior air transport editor for Aviation Week, based in New Zealand. He covers commercial aviation in the Asia-Pacific region.