Indian airlines were able to fill fewer seats in September after witnessing a rise a month ago even as the number of flyers rose to the highest in the three months since lockdown restrictions were eased.
The industry-wise load factor, a measure of seat occupancy, fell to 60.5% in September compared to 63.2% in August, according to data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Even an increase in daily flight movements during the same period couldn’t counter the trend.
Airlines registered an average of 2,673 flight movements as on Sept. 29, according to information shared by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, compared with 2,051 as on Aug. 30.
India, the world’s fastest growing aviation market, had barred all passenger flights on March 25 to control the spread of coronavirus. Domestic operations resumed on May 25, but international air travel continues to remain suspended, barring flights under the Vande Bharat Mission.
The Civil Aviation Ministry permitted increasing capacity to 45% with effect from June 27, which was further scaled up to 60% on Sept. 2. Hardeep Singh Puri, the civil aviation minister, had earlier this month said airlines will soon be allowed to operate at 75% of their capacity.
About 39.43 lakh passengers took to the skies last month, a rise of 39.2% over August, the DGCA data showed. That compares with a 34.4% month-on-month growth in August. On a year-on-year basis, however, air traffic fell 65.82% in September.