New Delhi, Jan. 23: Its looking to be the year of low-cost airlines.
After stunning the industry with its world-record-breaking plane order, budget carrier IndiGo has become the number one player in December not only in market share but also in seat occupancy.
With an 18.6 per cent market share, IndiGo is first along with Vijay Mallyas Kingfisher.
Less than two weeks ago, the budget carrier had placed an order for 180 Airbus A-320s worth a massive $15.6 billion (Rs 70,200 crore).
In seat occupancy, IndiGo — part-owned by Calcutta-born Rakesh Gangwal — is first with an occupancy of 93.3 per cent on an average per flight.
Low-cost peers SpiceJet and GoAir are second and third in seat occupancy rankings with shares of 88 and 87 per cent, respectively.
Full-fare airlines did well, too, on the back of a growing economy.
National carrier Air India has reported a 79 per cent seat occupancy and announced plans to double its fleet size to 272 in four years.
According to Anil Baijal, secretary-general of the Federation of Indian Airlines, The figures do beg for more capacity to be deployed. The (passenger growth) trend data is encouraging. All airlines have cause to look ahead and plan fleet expansion.
But the low-cost airlines will perhaps have both an incremental growth of new flyers as well as existing fliers taking more flights, he said.
IndiGo made a profit of Rs 510 crore in the last fiscal year, while Air India posted a monthly operating profit of Rs 22 crore in November, its first in four years.
Low cost and full planes mean, it will be the low-cost airlines which will rake in larger profits, said Robin Pathak, aviation analyst and former Indian Airlines director.
Meanwhile, domestic airlines have agreed to refund passengers all costs barring the base fare if a non-refundable ticket is cancelled. Passengers can get this facility only if they cancel their tickets two hours before flight departure.