New Delhi: The grounding of Jet Airways is turning into a quick windfall and long-term opportunity for international airlines keen to scoop up nearly a million outbound passengers from what was once the nation’s biggest airline.
Jet, which previously had a fleet of around 120 largely Boeing Co planes, was forced to indefinitely halt all flight operations on April 17. The carrier’s descent into crisis has benefitted international airlines in the form of rising fares and demand, data showed.
Fares from India to cities such as Dubai, London, New York, Singapore and Bali in the first quarter of 2019 rose between 4 per cent and 32 per cent from a year ago, according to travel portal MakeMyTrip Ltd.
In the peak travel months of May and June, fares to London have spiked as much as 36 per cent and tickets to San Francisco are up nearly 20 per cent from a year ago, according to data from Yatra.com.
“For the next three months it’s actually bonanza time for international players,” said Ashish Nainan, a research analyst at CARE Ratings. “At least until the middle of June, the fares are not going to come down.”
Due to rising demand, even before Jet’s lessors grounded planes, carriers such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, Singapore Airlines Ltd and United Airlines saw an up to a 27 per cent increase in passenger numbers from India in the last quarter of 2018, data from the aviation regulator showed. That is the latest period for which the data is available.
India is one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets, clocking 15-20 per cent domestic growth in recent years. It has long had only two full-service long-haul carriers, state-run Air India and Jet.
Jet is now hoping to be bailed out by a new investor, with final bids due on May 10. Before its grounding, Jet had the biggest share of India’s outbound international air traffic, carrying 12 per cent of the 7.8 million passengers headed overseas in the Oct-Dec quarter, down from 14 per cent a year earlier, data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed.
The total number of passengers travelling overseas with Jet fell 10 per cent during the last quarter of 2018 even as the outbound travel market grew about 5 per cent.
Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines posted a 27 per cent increase in passengers from India, Cathay registered 17 per cent growth and British Airways saw a 10 per cent rise in the same period.
Cathay said the events at Jet combined with increasing demand for travel had led it to deploy larger aircraft with more seats on some Indian routes.
Singapore Airlines, in an email to Reuters, said the Indian market is “very promising” but declined to give details of airfare levels or demand patterns in the wake of Jet’s exit.
Jet’s grounding has also had a big impact on the domestic market, with inter-city air fares to major cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata soaring more than 20 per cent in May and June, according to Yatra.com.