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Summer travel: The routes with fewer—and more—flights

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Last May, when GoFirst suddenly filed for voluntary bankruptcy – the domestic travel market went into a disarray, especially the tours which saw people being stuck in places like Srinagar and passengers who were booked but found themselves in a quandary. Almost a year later, the number of daily departures has not increased significantly in Indian skies – even as airlines have inducted multiple aircraft.

GoFirst in May last year suddenly filed for voluntary bankruptcy.(Twitter/GoFirstairways)
GoFirst in May last year suddenly filed for voluntary bankruptcy.(Twitter/GoFirstairways)

This is largely because of additional groundings for IndiGo, taking away more capacity from the market. Data shared by Ciricum, an aviation analytics company, exclusively for this publication shows that the market has changed significantly on multiple routes. One significant aspect that the market has seen is the shift of all flights from Old Rajkot airport to Hirasar Airport and Goa Dabolim seeing its capacity reduced in favour of the new Mopa airport.

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If you have still not planned your summer holiday, here are the sectors where there has been an increase in capacity and sectors where there has been a reduction in capacity.

Top 5 sectors where capacity grew

The Bengaluru – Kolkata – Bengaluru market is seeing an addition of 57 weekly frequencies each way in May 2024, compared to the same month in the previous year. Go FIRST was not present on this sector and the massive increase is led by Vistara (thrice daily), Akasa Air (13 weekly), and a daily flight being added by IndiGo, AIX Connect and SpiceJet.

The Mumbai – Delhi route will see 46 additional departures while the return will see 39 more departures. This is followed by 38 additional departures between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, per week (36 additional departures from Ahmedabad to Mumbai). The Bengaluru – Trivandrum sector sees an increase of 35 weekly flights, led by doubly daily flights each, introduced by Air India Express and Vistara and the addition of a daily flight by IndiGo.

The Kolkata – Bagdogra – Kolkata route sees an increase of 32 weekly flights over previous year. This is led by SpiceJet and AIX Connect – which has traditionally been stronger at Bagdogra and has been guarding its fort against IndiGo.

Goa – the power of two airports

Goa has traditionally not been a summer destination due its hot and humid climate. However, the state – with its power of two airports is seeing exceptional growth in flights. MIA, Mopa, North Goa will see 306 weekly flights, while last year it saw only 194. Dabolim Airport will see 418 weekly departures, down from 441 departures it saw last May. However, with the two airports serving the same area – together the will be a growth of 89 weekly departures.

Over 32,000 seats are on offer each week between Delhi and Goa (both airports), while the short distance of Mumbai – Goa sees 30,000 seats on offer each way. Flights from Mumbai to Goa have seen the maximum shift from Dabolim to Mopa.

Top 5 sectors where capacity shrunk

The sectors which have seen capacity shrunk, are surprisingly not the ones where Go FIRST was strong. The topmost route is Bengaluru – Chennai, which has seen a drop of 35 weekly flights. This comes on the back of Akasa Air pulling out of that route, where it operated 28 weekly flights last May.

This is followed by the Mumbai – Chennai market, which saw a drop of 30 weekly flights, again led by Akasa Air which vacated this market. In third place is the Hyderabad – Bengaluru market which is seeing a reduction of 26 flights a week between Bengaluru – Hyderabad and 24 flights a week less between Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The reduction here is led by AIX Connect. The Mumbai – Bengaluru – Mumbai sector comes in fourth while Delhi – Kolkata – Delhi comes in fifth, both seeing a drop of 17 weekly flights and 16 weekly flights respectively. The Mumbai – Bengaluru sector also saw Akasa Air withdraw while Go FIRST has a significant presence.

What happened to Go FIRST’s routes?

Go FIRST had a strong presence in Delhi – Leh, Delhi – Srinagar, Mumbai – Goa, Delhi – Pune and Delhi – Mumbai markets. These were the top 5 markets by frequencies for Go FIRST in the month leading up to the suspension of the airline.

On the Delhi – Leh route, IndiGo has helped cover the capacity loss, while on the Delhi – Srinagar route IndiGo and Air India Express have added flights which are now more than the capacity which was in the market last year. All other routes have seen an increase in flights.

Tail Note

Interestingly, the loss of capacity is in the south, where Go FIRST did not have a strong presence. The loss of capacity is now recovered. However, the tourist demand remains high this year. In all probabilities, 2024 will record higher traffic than 2023. With the peak summer months ahead of us, the time to book tickets is fast ticking to avoid the last-minute fare hike.

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