Domestic air traffic in April was 14.8 per cent less compared to the same period last year. On the other hand, passenger load factors for all carriers rose significantly compared to the previous month, as a result of smarter pricing and cuts in capacity.
According to data released by the civil aviation ministry, domestic airlines carried 3.3 million passengers in April 2009, compared to 3.8 million in the same month last year. Domestic air traffic had fallen by 12 per cent in the first three months of the calendar year 2009, compared to the same period last year.
Average load factors of the carriers increased from 63.04 per cent in March to 67.1 per cent in April. Low cost carriers (LCCs) garnered higher loads, from 69-72 per cent.
Compared to that, loads of full service carriers hovered around 59-65 per cent. Market shares, however, remained largely unchanged, with the exception of Jet Airways whose share came down from 17.8 per cent in March to 16.7 per cent in April. "I would not attribute the increase in load factors as much to decrease in capacity as to attractive pricing. We also saw advance bookings really opening up in March, which had an impact on the loads in April," said Mohit Srivastava, head of online sales at makemytrip.com, a travel portal.
Anticipating a clear shift in traffic towards the LCCs, the full service carriers are now making efforts to woo travellers back, by shifting a considerable part of their capacity to the LCC model. While Jet Airways recently launched an all-economy class service called Jet Konnect, Kingfisher Airlines shifted some flights to its low cost arm, Kingfisher Red. Together, the two carriers have shifted around 78 flights to the low cost model.