Indian Skies Soar to New Heights in December!

Record-breaking December Caps Stellar Year for Domestic Air Travel

By Spl Correspondent

Standing at the juncture of year-end and advent of New Year, India’s domestic air travel industry reached new heights. It’s December – the month for holiday promotions witnesses the highest number of passengers ever recorded in a single month – a whopping 13.8 million! This impressive figure surpasses both December 2022 (by 8.4%) and pre-pandemic December 2019 (by 6.1%).

This surge in passengers comes despite a slight decrease in the number of flights compared to December 2019. Airlines operated 91,044 flights in December 2023, a 3% increase over December 2022, but slightly lower than the 94,910 flights in December 2019.

Several factors contributed to this remarkable growth:

  • Holiday Season Rush: Traditionally, December’s shorter holiday window compared to summer leads to more concentrated passenger traffic.
  • Economic Recovery: India’s improving economic climate and strategic airline sales fares fuelled the December surge.
  • Increased Capacity: IndiGo’s addition of wet-leased aircraft and the Tata Group’s expanded capacity across its airlines boosted passenger numbers.

This positive trend is expected to continue. With 2024 being an election year, typically a growth driver, and India’s projected economic rise, domestic traffic could see a 15% increase, reaching 17.5 million passengers. However, airline fleet expansion, particularly by the Tata Group, will be crucial for supporting this growth.

Despite the December success, challenges remain. IndiGo faces the grounding of 40 more aircraft in 2024. Additionally, the new COVID variant’s rise in neighbouring countries could potentially impact travel and passenger numbers.

While the industry celebrates a record-breaking year, profitability remains a question mark. Strong financial performance in the coming quarter would be a significant step forward for most airlines.

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