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Cumulative Passengers Carried in the first year of ops

AirAsia India is a wonderful airline, and has got a few things right. Their on board service is one of those.

As an airline, especially a start-up airline, making mistakes is inevitable. Falling short of projected growth plans and heavy flight cancellations and delays in certain months of the first year of operations are acceptable. Both these have happened to AirAsia India, and the industry understands. Of course, there are better examples, such as IndiGo, which has managed to play the game like no other.

The unacceptable part? Factually incorrect statements that can lower the overall credibility of the industry.

Here is an excerpt from the May 20 interview of the AirAsia India CEO, by Ashwini Phadnis, as published in The Hindu Business Line:

How many of the things planned initially have happened and how many have not?

We have done certain things we did not expect. We have flown close to a million passengers. By the time we complete our first year we would have flown more than a million passengers[1]. No other airline in India has done that before in their first year of operations[2]. We have done that with a skeleton fleet, meaning, we have utilised aircraft significantly.

We contest both claims [1] & [2], in the interest of factual correctness.

The graph on top (click to enlarge) shows the total number of passengers flown against the first twelve months of operations. All data is from the DGCA.

IndiGo, Kingfisher Airlines, SpiceJet, and Go Air started operations in the 2005-2006 timeframe. Within the first one year of operations, all airlines in consideration, with the exception of Go Air, carried in excess of 1 million passengers. IndiGo crossed the 2 million mark in the first year!

As of 31st March 2015, AirAsia India had carried 550,000 passengers. This means that the airline will need to carry 450,000 passengers to touch the 1 million mark by the end of June (AirAsia India started operations on 12th June, 2014). This means that the airline will need to carry on average 150,000 passengers in the months of April, May and June. Is this achievable?

Data for the month of April and May were not available at the time of writing this piece. Since April had no new flights, but had infact cut 4 – Bangalore- Chennai & back, the airline flew around 97,200 seats in April. With an assumed 82% load factor – their highest so far, the airline could have flown no more than 80,000 passengers in April.

66% of May was flown with 18 flights a day, which totals to approximately 65,000 seats. Effective 21st May, the airline will operate 8 new flights. For 33% of the month this totals to around 47,000 seats. IN total, May can fly only 112,000 seats. At a generous 90% load factor, this is 100,000 passengers.

In June, the airline will fly 28 flights a day, flying approximately 140000 seats a month. At 80% load factor, this will result in around 120,000 passengers being flown.

This means that AirAsia India will close its first year of operations with a maximum of 850,000 passengers, neither meeting nor crossing the 1 million mark.

We wish the airline all the very best for its northern hub operations.

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