Domestic air traffic jumped by 33.67 percent month-on-month in October, continuing on a gradual but steady rebound after flights resumed in May after the lockdown.
Data from industry regulator DGCA showed that 52.71 lakh people took to the air in October, compared to 39.43 lakh in September. The growth rate in September was a tad higher at 39 percent.
Year-on-year, however, the numbers are still lower and were down 57.2 percent from October 2019. At the same time, the drop was less steep. In September, year-on-year traffic declined by 65.82 percent.
For the year till October, the industry saw a total of 4.93 crore passengers, a drop of 58.27 percent from the same period a year ago.
Domestic flights had resumed on May 25, after they had been suspended in end-March owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the latest data from the Ministry of Civil Aviation shows that flights have reached 60 percent of their pre-COVID-19 levels. Passenger traffic is now about half of the earlier level.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had recently commented that the domestic aviation sector will reach pre-pandemic levels by end of December or by the beginning of the New Year. Earlier, he had expected the industry to reach the level by first quarter of 2021.
The government had recently upped the cap on capacity utilisation to 70 percent, from the 60 percent earlier.
Interestingly, passengers loads of nearly all airlines, with the notable exception of Vistara, is higher than a year-ago level. SpiceJet, for instance, has a load of 74 percent, up from 73 percent. For IndiGo, its 68.2 percent, from 65.4 percent. Air India, GoAir and AirAsia India have also seen loads improving.
On the other hand, Vistara had a passenger load factor of 65.2 percent, down from 66.7 percent.
"The passenger load factor in the month of Oct 2020 has shown some recovery due to increased demand after opening of Lockdown and onset of festive season," the DGCA said.
GoAir and AirAsia India managed to increase their market share, mostly at the expense of IndiGo and Vistara.
While share of GoAir increased from 6.7 percent to 7.5 percent, month-on-month, AirAsia India's improved to 7.1 percent from 6 percent. IndiGo saw its dominant market share slip by a bit, from 57.5 percent to 55 percent. Vistara's was down to 6.4 percent, from 6.6 percent.