IndiGo Widens Lead on International Routes
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IndiGo Widens Lead on International Routes

NEW DELHI : Low-cost airline IndiGo has almost doubled its share of India’s international flights in the first quarter of FY24 from the corresponding pre-pandemic period, expanding its lead in this lucrative segment.

Between April and June, IndiGo, the largest domestic airline, has achieved a 17.2% market share, among both Indian and foreign airlines operating on international routes, up significantly from 9.6% in the June quarter of 2019, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Domestic rival Air India also increased its market share from 11.6% to 12.5% during the period, but its subsidiary, Air India Express, witnessed a decline in its market share in the June quarter, from over 8% in the corresponding 2019 period to 7.8%.

The covid pandemic broke out in early 2020, grounding air traffic for an extended period, and 2019 was the last year when airlines operated under normal conditions.

During April-June 2023, the number of international passengers were at 15.6 million, an increase of 23,000 compared to April-June 2019.

According to industry insiders, the surge in air passenger traffic for IndiGo reflects a growing preference among Indians opting for overseas travel to be satisfied with no-frills services for short-to-medium haul destinations.

It’s also noteworthy to compare the top three international players in the Indian market. In 2018-19, Jet Airways had a 12.1% share, followed by the then state-run Air India at 10.5%, and Emirates at 8.7%. However, in 2022-23, low-cost carrier IndiGo not only outperformed the traditional full-service carriers, but also claimed the top rank with a market share of 15.7%, followed by Air India at 12.4%, and Emirates at 9.8%.

Indigo, which commenced operations in 2006, flies to 32 international and 83 domestic destinations with 1,900-plus daily flights. It continued to expand aggressively in the international markets even in July with international passenger traffic at 991,209, up 35% from a year ago and around 82% from the corresponding period of 2019.

“We are taking significant steps. We prefer to actually do the things rather than only talking about things. We will bring our share of international ASKs (available seat kilometers) by the end of this year to a range of 30% which is an increase from the low 20s where we were earlier,” chief executive officer Pieter Elbers told analysts during the post-earnings conference call of IndiGo in August.

In 2023, the airline expanded its operations to Central Asia and Africa, while adding more destinations in Southeast Asia, including Jakarta, Nairobi, Almaty, Tashkent, Baku and Tbilisi.

Its focus on profitability and better yield performance on overseas routes has also been a driving force to fill the connectivity gaps within a five-six hour flying radius from India. Besides, the expected induction of A321neo XLR (extra long range) in 2025 will also allow it to expand to new destinations across Europe and Asia.

“As we know, the Indian carriers have a somewhat lower share than international carriers when it comes to traffic to and from India. It’s precisely why we believe there’s such an opportunity to grow that share and making sure that we get a bigger share of that pie,” Elbers had said.

However, a senior government official told Mint, requesting anonymity, that the Centre expects the balance to tilt towards Indian carriers within 2-3 years.

Source : Mint