At a time when Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines are losing market share in the international sector, Air India has seen an increase.
Data for the first two quarters of the current financial year show Air India (AI) has increased market share from 19.6 per cent in the first quarter to 20.2 per cent in the second quarter. During the same period, Jet’s market share in the sector fell from 12.7 per cent in first quarter to 12.6 per cent in the second. Kingfisher, which was operating with full capacity during this period, also fell marginally from 3.37 to 3.36 per cent.
“There are various factors for the increase in international carriage but one of the main reasons is our hub at Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal 3. With the hub, we have seen an increase from passengers coming mainly from the Eastern region, who want to fly to the West,” said a senior Air India official, who did not want to be identified.
He added direct flights to the US and Canada have also helped us increase our passenger carriage. “United and Air India are the only two carriers operating direct flights between India and the US. We have encashed on that and have also started making profit in the US routes,” the official said, adding, “We had witnessed a rise in passenger carriage to international destinations such as Paris, Kabul, Canada, Chicago and Kathmandu during the first two quarters. The trend continues at present as well.”
The market share data is till September and it might have seen an increase after American Airlines, the third carrier that offered direct connectivity between India and the US, pulled out in December.
SpiceJet and JetLite, the low-cost carriers, have also seen an increase in their passenger carriage in the international sector.
The increase in passenger carriage has helped in increasing the stake of Indian carriers from 36.5 per cent in the April-June quarter to 37.3 per cent in the July-September quarter. Foreign airlines have seen a decline in market share from 63.5 per cent in the April-June quarter to 62.7 per cent in July-September quarter.
AI, which is in deep financial crisis and is asking for help from the government, has been increasing market share in the domestic sector also. It has become the third-largest carrier in terms of passenger carriage by carrying 17.4 per cent of the total passengers in December. The airline’s carriage percentage had fallen below 15 per cent but later picked up after Kingfisher grounded planes.
AI says international passenger carriage will increase further once it inducts Boeing 787 Dreamliners and starts flights to new destinations and strengthens network in various short-haul international sectors. “We will launch Dreamliners to Australia and replace our aircraft to some West Asian destinations. The Dreamliners will have more seats, increasing our passenger carriage,” the official said.
AI plans to replace short-haul Airbus 320s and 321s with Dreamliners and bring these Airbus aircraft in the domestic sector.