Civil Aviation Regaining Strength
With the general easing of travel restrictions, there has been renewed confidence in air travel in the country. India’s domestic air traffic rose 46.5 percent year-on-year to 103.55 lakh passengers in September against 101.16 lakh passengers in the previous month, data released recently by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation shows.
During January-September 2022, domestic airlines carried 874.24 lakh passengers, up from 531.11 lakh during the year-ago period, registering an annual growth of 64.61 percent, the civil aviation regulator said.
The market share of India’s largest airline IndiGo remained unchanged from August at 57.7 percent, with the carrier flying 59.72 lakh passengers in September.
Vistara took the number two slot, with a share of 9.6 percent, flying 9.96 lakh passengers during the period. The airline’s market share saw a slight drop from 9.7 percent in August.
GoFirst’s market share in September fell to 7.9 percent from 8.6 percent in the previous month. It carried 8.15 lakh passengers in September. Air India’s market share during the month rose to 9.2 percent from 8.5 percent in August as it carried 9.5 lakh passengers in September.
SpiceJet remained at number five in September. The airline, which has been making news for snags during flights, saw its share slip to 7.3 percent in September from 7.9 percent in the previous month. It flew 7.53 lakh passengers in September.
The passenger load factor, or the occupancy rate, of SpiceJet, IndiGo, Vistara, Go First, Air India and AirAsia India stood at 85.8 percent, 81.3 percent, 85.4 percent, 83.2 percent, 79.6 percent, and 77 percent, respectively,, in September.
Akasa Air, India’s newest carrier also saw a sharp jump in its passenger load factor, rising to 81.2 percent in September, its second month of operations, from 52.9 percent in August. The airline carried 93,000 passengers in September, garnering a market share of 0.9 percent.
The rise in the number of air-passengers in India is in tune with the overall rise of Asia Pacific Airline Passengers. Three quarters of airline passengers in Asia Pacific(APAC) feel confident about flying again. This is a significant rise from just 6% last year, according to Inmarsat’s 2022 Passenger Experience Survey, which surveyed 4,000 people across the APAC region who have travelled by air in the past 12 months.
With the general easing of travel restrictions, there has been renewed confidence in air travel. These were reflected in findings across the surveyed countries in APAC, with India (88%) topping the list, followed by Australia and Singapore (79%), and South Korea (53%).
As appetite for travel rebuilds, airlines are now enhancing efforts to create the best possible flying experience. Inflight connectivity remains one of the leading factors that influence which airline is selected by APAC passengers, with more than four-fifths (83%) more likely to rebook with an airline if quality inflight Wi-Fi was available, an increase from 78% in the previous year.
The heightened desire to stay connected while travelling is also evident with almost three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed saying it is important to connect to Wi-Fi when flying, up from 39% in 2021. The greater zest for travel and increasing demand for connectivity presents an opportunity for airlines to create more meaningful and compelling digital experiences for travellers beyond just inflight connectivity.
David Coiley, Asia Pacific Regional Vice President, Inmarsat Aviation, said “As millions return to the skies, the results of Inmarsat’s latest APAC passenger experience survey offer valuable insights into how the expectations and behaviours of passengers have evolved since the pandemic.
“Inflight connectivity is a prime example. Passenger demand for fast and reliable Wi-Fi has never been higher, so providing access to such services is absolutely essential for airlines. This also serves as the foundation to enhance the overall onboard experience through digitalisation, which our survey results indicate will not only be embraced by passengers, helping to drive their future brand loyalty, but also unlocks even greater revenue generation opportunities for airlines across Asia Pacific. Passengers are even telling us they would go without an alcoholic drink or a seat to ensure they get good inflight Wi-Fi.”
The volume of APAC passengers using digital devices on flights remains high at 96% – mostly for entertainment and administrative tasks. In addition, 78% have connected to inflight broadband when available on a flight, more than double the percentage from the previous year (38%). This demonstrates how passengers continue to value top-notch inflight connectivity, suggesting airlines should prioritise the availability of reliable Wi-Fi and simplify the signing up process for travellers to stay connected.
Travellers across APAC are also willing to trade for connectivity. 36% of respondents say they would be willing to view advertisements and 32% claim they would even give up alcoholic drinks inflight if it means having access to quality and consistent connectivity.
Interestingly, close to one in three (29%) travellers from India say they are willing to go as far as standing for the entire duration for the flight if it meant access to reliable Wi-Fi onboard.
Watching downloaded movies or TV shows was the most popular onboard activity passengers would engage in while connected – a figure that is unsurprising, considering that 32% indicated they would pay more to access exclusive inflight entertainment content while flying. In addition, 28% would pay more for both unlimited downloads and social media usage.
Although results show APAC passengers are willing to pay for better or more connectivity-enabled experiences during their flights, cost remains the single most prohibitive factor across all markets, with Australian passengers (56%) feeling the most strongly about it. Four in five (80%) APAC passengers also believe that Wi-Fi should be free on long-haul flights, with fewer than half (49%) saying the same for short-haul flights.
Like their peers around the world, today’s post-pandemic travellers clearly value and even prioritise staying connected throughout their entire journey, including while in the air. As the demand for travel continues to recover and climb further, there are clear opportunities for airlines to tap into the demand for connectivity and offer passengers a richer inflight experience.