45 days have passed since Jet Airways finally grounded all its operations. The troubles, though, at the airline had started much before the inevitable closure. The main part of an airline business is schedule integrity. With Jet Airways, this problem started as early as January 2019. The airline had to cancel flights due to their aircraft being repossessed by the lessors.
As the business fell apart, its credibility broke into pieces. The business customers started booking away from Jet Airways. Most of the businesses started going towards all the other airlines in India in bunches as Jet Airways began to collapse. Jet Airways carried 17.06 lakh passengers in January 2019 (including JetLite).
In March 2019, which was the last full month of operations for them, they only carried 6.71 lakh passengers. GoAir, which flew 10.88 lakh passengers in January was able to carry 11.9 Lakh passengers in April 2019.
The spike in full-fare bookings talks about how this helped the finances of the airlines, as customers were left astray by Jet Airways and had to look the other way.
The market leader, IndiGo went about adding capacity from Mumbai’s Terminal 2 and Delhi’s Terminal 2 as soon as the news came about of slot redistribution to other airlines due to the fall of Jet Airways. IndiGo added flights internationally, independent of Jet Airways slots. It only added three aircraft in March 2019, and has now resumed their cycle of receiving an aircraft every few days, having added a net of 7 aircraft to the fleet in May 2019 so far.
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SpiceJet, which came close to its own demise back in 2014, was the best placed to capture this opportunity due to a combination of many factors. However, Spicejet saw their Boeing 737 MAX aircraft being grounded as a part of the global grounding of the said plane. Then, the Boeing 737 NG, an older generation aircraft, was back in demand globally, as airlines leased these aircraft quickly to be able to maintain their summer schedules.
A new requirement created on the go might have helped them turn this adversity into opportunity. The civil aviation bureaucracy in India decided that they would only allocate the Jet Airways slots to airlines which were able to add capacity in a 30 day period, in terms of new planes.
In India, there were over 70 such aircraft in the fleet of Jet Airways, which were being repossessed by their lessors. SpiceJet was the only other domestic operator flying the aircraft type apart from Jet Airways, so they were able to turn this into an opportunity for themselves to expand out of crucial airports like Mumbai or New Delhi.
The problems with Jet Airways have set up a multi pronged battle between surviving airlines. IndiGo, Spicejet, Vistara – all have their priorities set. They are solely motivated to rule the skies. SpiceJet wants to challenge IndiGo and vice versa. For Vistara, however, it is about being the credible option for the Full-Service traveler. For others, it is just about waiting and watching. GoAir, Air Asia India and Air India have moved forward on adding some routes, but hardly enough to make a big impact on the scene.