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Flying start to 2016: January domestic air passenger traffic up 22.58%

The domestic aviation market continues on a growth trajectory in the new year, with air passenger traffic up by over 22 per cent in January even as the seat factor declined marginally during the period due to the end of the tourist season. Indian carriers together flew 76.55 lakh passengers in January 2016 compared to 62.45 lakh fliers ferried by them during the same period in the previous year, logging 22.58 per cent growth, according to the DGCA data released on Thursday.

Budget carrier IndiGo maintained its leadership position carrying 27.26 lakh passengers, more than one-thirds of the total traffic pie, while another budget carrier SpiceJet continued seeing highest seat occupancy in its aircraft at 92.1 per cent during the month. While Jet Airways and JetLite combined flew flew 21.4 lakh passengers with a market share of 21.4 per cent, national carrier Air India transported 12.23 lakh passengers, cornering 16 per cent of the total air passenger traffic in January 2016.

SpiceJet and GoAir also carried 10.11 lakh and 6.20 lakh passengers respectively during this period, according to the DGCA data. On the other side, the number of passengers flown by the two startup carriers Vistar and AirAsia during January stood at 1.50 lakh and 1.75 lakh respectively, cornering 2 per cent and 2.3 per cent market share respectively.

The passenger load factor in the month of January 2016 has slightly decreased compared to previous month primarily due to the end of tourist season, the DGCA said. “For the ninth consecutive month in a row, SpiceJet has once again recorded the highest passenger load factor of all airlines in India.

“In addition, the cancellation rate for the airline at 0.5 per cent was the lowest of all pan-India operators and the On-Time Performance (about 75 per cent) was amongst the best,” SpiceJet said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Turkey is looking to renegotiate the “outdated” civil aviation agreement with India and operate more flights to the country, Turkish Ambassador to India Burak Akcapar said on Thursday. “The current civil aviation agreement is outdated and far too limited...,” Akcapar said here. Currently, Turkish Airlines operates one flight each from Delhi and Mumbai daily. Turkey’s national carrier flies to 105 countries and connects around 230 cities in different parts of the world.

“We are waiting for a new civil aviation agreement between the two countries that would (not only) increase the current frequencies but also open up not less than six cities through connections with the world,” he said. Turkish Airlines is looking to have flights to Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Amristar, Bengaluru and Chennai. Also, the carrier is looking at doubling the number of flights from Delhi and Mumbai.

Akcapar said Turkey has proposed opening of negotiations on the civil aviation agreement with India. “We are waiting for a positive decision from Indian government in this regard,” he added. “Connectivity is key to improving tourism, trade and people to people relations. Our carriers can provide significant opportunities for India to connect better to the world,” Akcapar said.

Maintaining that they were looking for win-win solutions, the Ambassador said Turkish carriers are open to code sharing with other Indian carriers. Turkish Airlines already has a code share pact with Air India.  “What we are looking at is win-win solutions. Basically we are not in competition with any Indian carrier. We will only complement the local capabilities of Indian carriers... We will only bring additional capacities,” he said.

Akcapar said Turkish entities are looking very closely at further investments and business opportunities in India. “Smart cities is an area where our cooperation can yield significant results... We have very advanced capabilities in building infrastructure,” he said. He was speaking on the sidelines of an aviation conference organised by industry body PHD Chamber.

Private carrier Jet Airways will expand flight operations to Dubai from its Delhi and Mumbai hubs from next month. The airline would launch a sixth flight of daily frequency on Mumbai-Dubai route from March 1, while a third daily frequency will be added from Delhi for Dubai on March 27, Jet Airways said in a release. 

The carrier will deploy Boeing 737-800 aircraft for the new services, offering business and economy passengers the best-in-class in-flight product, it said. With the launch of the new frequencies, Jet Airways will operate a total of 11 daily flights between India and Dubai, including services from Kochi and Mangalore, it said.

The international traffic at Dubai Airport reportedly increased by 10.7 per cent to more than 78 million in 2015 over the year-ago period, making it the busiest airport for the international passengers in the world. The growth was driven by 100 airlines that connect the airport to 240 destinations around the world.

“The new frequencies will enable Jet Airways to offer guests a wide choice of departure times to/from Dubai and convenient domestic connections via our hubs in Mumbai and Delhi,” Gaurang Shetty, senior vice-president, commercial, Jet Airways, said in the statement.

The airline’s new flights commence operations at a time when India has strengthened its position as one of UAE’s largest trading partners and the bilateral trade is at an all- time high, it said. Besides Jet Airways other domestic carriers such as IndiGo, SpiceJet and Air India Express have also added flights to the business and trade hub of the Gulf region.

While Gurgaon-based no-frills SpiceJet had early this week launched its flight services to Dubai from Jaipur and Hyderabad, another budget carrier IndiGo had last week commenced its third daily direct service to Dubai from Delhi.
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