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Domestic air traffic up 28% in September

The Times of India:  October, 2014

New Delhi: Domestic air traffic grew 28% last month as airlines were coming out with discount offers to attract flyers at the onset of the festive season. Over 58 lakh people flew within the country, up from 45 lakh last September. This is among the highest numbers recorded in the lean July-September quarter and is closer to the figure of 60 lakh seen this year in the busiest summer holiday month of May.

SpiceJet COO Sanjiv Kapoor, the man who started the offer-a-day at his financially struggling airline and thereby forcing all other carriers to follow suit, is smiling at the travel figures of an otherwise lean September. "The stimulation that we gave the market has benefited everyone, especially customers. Even other airlines now grudgingly accept that we did the right thing (the unending discount schemes)," Kapoor said.

SpiceJet saw its planes going the fullest with an occupancy of 85.9% - the highest among all carriers in September. Even in market share, the low-cost carrier ( LCC) has pipped Air India (domestic) to the fourth spot.

If SpiceJet has benefitted from Kapoor's "market stimulation", AI suffered from the uncertainty at its top level with the government only recently giving extension to its CMD Rohit Nandan. AI, which has been on recovery path under Nandan, saw its vital indicators drop during the virtually headless phase when no one knew who is in charge.

In September, AI had the lowest on-time performance in the four metros and its aircraft occupancy was the second lowest at 76.7% after AirAsia India's 68.7%. In terms of market share, AI was ahead of Wadia Group's GoAir and AirAsia India. "The latest data shows two things - SpiceJet employees led by Kapoor have shown tremendous resilience for a financially struggling airline with an uncertain future and now the promoters need to either pump in money or find an investor to sustain the improvement Kapoor has brought in. Secondly, Nandan needs to undo the damage caused in AI when no one was in control," said a source.