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Domestic
airlines registered about 24.14% growth in passengers flown during February
compared to that a year ago, data released by the aviation regulator showed. As
per the data, released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on
Monday, Indian carriers carried 10.7 million passengers during the month, up
from 8.6 million in February 2017.

As a result, all key scheduled carriers flew
their planes with over 80% of their seats full. Gurgaon-based SpiceJetBSE 1.44
% continued to maintain its pole position in terms of load factor by flying its
planes 96.3% full, followed by IndiGoBSE 0.77 %, which flew its planes with
91.8% seats full despite problems with its Airbus 320 (neo) aircraft.

Vistara was a surprise third by flying its
planes with 91.2% seats full, highest ever by the airline. This was despite the
fact that the airline flies its planes in a three-class configuration –
economy, premium economy and business.

“We had a very good month in February across
many dimensions, and are gratified that we are becoming the airline of choice
for more and more flyers despite being a premium airline in a price sensitive
market. It shows there is a strong market segment for a superior customer
experience. The more people who fly us, the greater the word of mouth, and
greater the demand for our product,” said Sanjiv Kapoor, Chief Strategy
& Commercial Officer, Vistara.

In terms of operating flights on time, Jet
Airways remained the worst performer for the fifth consecutive month. While Jet
Airways operated 62.2% of its flights on time, SpiceJet topped the list by
operating 78% of its flights on time. IndiGo was second, having operated 74.8%
of its flights on time.

“SpiceJet has yet again put up an exceptional
operational performance by clocking the best on-time performance (78%) amongst
all airlines and the highest passenger load factor (96.3%). This is our highest
ever load factor and comes in the traditionally lean travel month of February.
For 35 months in a row our loads have been in excess of 90% — a feat
unparalleled in the aviation industry,” SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said in a
statement.

IndiGo remained the market
leader in terms of passenger carriage, by flying 39.9% of the total passengers
during February. Jet Airways followed IndiGo in terms of market share, by
flying 16.8% of the passengers flown during the month. The national carrier,
Air India, was the third largest carrier in terms of market share, accounting
for 13.2% of the passengers flown during the month.

Travel industry insiders say
that the growth trend in the aviation space is set to continue in the coming
months too.

“In what is traditionally a
lean month, most airlines have recorded load factors of around 90 percent or
more. Clearly the growth momentum in the Indian market, which is one of the
fastest growing air travel markets globally, continues unabated. With the peak
summer season approaching and airlines gearing up to offer more to customers,
we are confident that this growth trend will continue in the coming months,”
said Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com.