India's domestic air traffic rose 13.7% year-on-year (YoY) to 127.35 lakh passengers in December 2022 as compared with 112.02 lakh passengers in the corresponding period last year, the latest data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) shows. Tata group-owned Air India dethroned another Tata airline Vistara to become the second biggest domestic airline in December 2022, the data shows.

Domestic airlines carried 1,232.45 lakh passengers during January-December 2022, up from 838.14 lakh during the year-ago period, registering an annual growth of 47.05%, the civil aviation regulator says.

Passenger load factor — a metric to measure the percentage of available seats filled — was the highest for SpiceJet at 92.7% in December, followed by 92.6% for GoFirst and 92.1 for Indiaone Air.

The overall cancellation rate of scheduled domestic airlines for December 2022 has been 0.79%, with Fly Big being the highest at 3.65%, followed by Alliance Air at 2.37% and Star Air at 1.19%. The top reasons for cancellations include weather (81.1%), followed by technical (7.8%) and commercial (6.4%).

IndiGo, the country’s largest carrier, flew 69.97 lakh passengers in December 2022, clocking a maximum market share of 54.9% in the country. IndiGo was followed by Air India, which flew 11.71 lakh passengers and captured a 9.2% market share. Vistara, a joint venture of Tatas and Singapore Airlines, remained the third largest domestic airline, with 11.7 lakh passengers and a 9.2% market share in December 2022. The market share of Air Asia, another Tata Sons-backed carrier, remained unchanged at 7.6% in December.

Overall, in the year 2022, IndiGo's market share was the highest at 56.1%, followed by Vistara at 9.2% and Go First at 8.8%. Ajay Singh-led SpiceJet grabbed the market share of 8.7% in 2022, even though the airline was majorly hit by bad press amid frequent technical snags.

During December 2022, a total of 408 passenger-related complaints had been received by the scheduled domestic airlines. The number of complaints per 10,000 passengers carried for December 2022 has been around 0.32, with Alliance Air (5.9), Star Air (2.0), and Air India (1) being the top three airlines with the maximum complaints.

The aviation industry was hit hard by the Covid pandemic. Despite fully opening the domestic and international operations, domestic airlines are expected to report a net loss of ₹15,000 crore to ₹17,000 crore in the financial year 2022-23, primarily due to elevated aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices and the recent depreciation of the Indian rupee, according to a report by ratings agency ICRA.

The airline industry across the globe, however, is looking at profitability in 2023, with North America expected to deliver an $8.8 billion profit in 2022 alone, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says. As the pace of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis quickens, the IATA says industry losses are expected to reduce to $9.7 billion in 2022. It is an improvement from the October 2021 forecast that pegged losses at $11.6 billion.

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