MIAMI — The 2019 domestic air traffic growth is not only the lowest in the last five years for India but for the first time in half a decade, it has come down to single-digit points.
As per the data released by the Indian aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation), the overall domestic air traffic growth in 2019 (January-December) stood at 144.2 million passengers, which was a measly 3.75% growth over 2018’s number of 139 million passengers.
This reduction is a sharp contrast with the impressive 2018 results, which had clocked 18.53% growth over the previous year.
Indian domestic traffic has been growing at break-neck speed for the last five years. From 2014 till 2018, it grew at an average of nearly 20%, catapulting it the among the fastest-growing domestic aviation markets in the world. Yet, and despite the poor showing in 2019, the average domestic growth still stands at an impressive 16.65% for the past five years.
The general economic slowdown coupled with capacity constraints due to grounding of Jet Airways—which till March 2018 had remained the second-largest domestic carrier—has been cited as the main reason for this weak growth performance.
However, the Indian aviation industry and experts did not expect such a poor performance, forecasting the demand to go up in the last four months of the year when festive seasons begins and the weather is more pleasant, leading to increased travel activity.
“General economic slowdown dampened spirit and the turmoil caused by the demise of Jet Airways was expected to pull down the growth story,” said Rishikesh Mishra, Director at New Delhi based Centre for Aviation Policy, Safety, and Research (CAPSR).
“But one certainly did not expect such a poor showing. This is unexpected,” asserted Mishra.
“We expected the air travel to pick up in the last four months. But this did not really happen except in the month of November when traffic grew by nearly 10% but again the December showing was very subdued,” he concluded.