June was a busy month for Indian airlines, with just over 10.5 million passengers taking to the skies. This has pushed airlines to get increasingly competitive for passengers, with SpiceJet, Go First, and Vistara all finishing within 0.1% of each other for second place. However, real challenges face the industry in the coming weeks, even for the most established players.
Pecking order changes
For years now, India’s traffic data has looked familiar, with IndiGo topping the charts and SpiceJet coming in well behind. However, the last 12 months have changed this significantly, and now the battle second place has become a fierce one. In June 2022, SpiceJet overtook Go First (previously GoAir) to take second place for the first time in months. Both tied for a market share of 9.5%, with the former carrying a few thousand more passengers.
The standout of the list was Vistara, which carried 9.4% of the month’s traffic and less than 10,000 passengers away from jumping up to the second spot. The full-service airline has seen high load factors in recent months and steadily added passengers as its competitors struggle financially and with lesser capacity post-pandemic.
IndiGo topped the list with a dominant showing of 59.83% of all travelers in June. However, July is set to be a much rockier month for the carrier as it faces employee disputes over pay, hurting its on-time performance and cancelations.
Air India continued its slides downward as it struggles to keep up with rivals, with market share falling to just 7.5%, down from double-digits at the start of the year. The full-service airline is currently working on a turnaround plan following its acquisition by the Tata Group.
Summer of woes
June tends to be one of the busiest travel months thanks to summer holidays in schools. While traffic is still down compared to 2019, airlines have been seeing strong demand from leisure travelers looking to get away. But there have been some notable incidents in recent weeks that could slow the momentum.
SpiceJet recently received a DGCA notice after a shocking 10 incidents in 12 weeks, which included diversions and smoke in the cabin of its planes. This has left the carrier forced to ground some planes at the last minute and undertake a significant safety review. Considering this, it may well be left outside of the top three next month.
As new jobs flood the market, airline employees are demanding that all pandemic-era cuts be revoked and pay increased. Photo: Airbus
Usually the firm hand in Indian aviation, IndiGo has been hit by a series of troubles this month too. This is mainly linked to pay disputes among employees across the carrier, leaving it with delayed services and cancelations, a rarity in the world’s eighth-largest carrier. With pay rises across the board, the low-cost giant is hoping it will be able to keep these incidents as one-offs.
Akasa Air coming soon
The traffic data comes on the heels of Akasa Air beginning the sale of flight tickets, with August 7th as the launch date. The new budget airline, operating 737 MAXs, with fly from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, a bustling business route that has sizeable competitors. The addition of Akasa is only likely to further tighten the competition at the top and all eyes will be on its progress in the next 12 months.