New Delhi: Air India (AI) and Air India Express, the regional international subsidiary of the struggling national carrier, flew nearly as many passengers in and out of India last year as Jet Airways and partner Etihad Airways clubbed together. Jet and Etihad were ahead last year by just 18,892 passengers. In 2018, however, AI and AI Express carried over 1 crore international passengers for the first time. Moreover, the top 10 list of standalone airlines for overseas travel witnessed multiple shakeups.
While Jet, AI and Emirates retained the top three spots last year and in the year before, IndiGo beat AI Express to become the fourth largest international player of 2019 in the country. There were 6.3 crore overseas travellers in the country last year, a 7.3 percent rise from 5.9 crores in 2017.
Jet’s passenger count falls
Even though Jet Airways remained the single largest airline for international travel, its financial woes along with the downsizing of Etihad resulted in the two airlines together accounting for 1.06 crore overseas passengers, a fall from 1.1 crores in 2017.
Thanks to adding a-plane-a-week in 2018 and deploying additional capacity on international routes, IndiGo’s international passenger count surged 48 percent last year to 41.8 lakh from 28.3 lakh in 2017. By surpassing Qatar Airways and Oman Air for international travel, budget carrier SpiceJet climbed up two places to the seventh position last year.
Sri Lankan climbs places, Qatar Airways falls
By effectively replicating Gulf airlines’ model of flying passengers between India and the rest of the world through their hubs, Sri Lankan made a top-10 appearance occupying the number 9 spot. Qatar Airways, which was seventh in 2017, is now at number 10.