Air India had the largest number of passenger complaints in January, according to numbers released by the Airports Authority, while Vistara passengers complained the least.
Among the big domestic airlines, both Indigo and Spicejet scored high with low levels of passenger complaints while Jet Airways and Go Air saw passenger complaint rates that were double or more compared to these airlines.
Some of this could be attributed to the pressures of running a commercially viable airline service with high levels of occupancy. For example, Vistara had the lowest levels of occupancy among all the airlines in India. Just 77.6% of Vistara’s seats were filled on average.
In contrast, the airline with the biggest discounts — SpiceJet — had the highest occupancy levels: 92.1% of its seats were filled with passengers on take-off during the month.
Air India, which topped in passenger complaints, saw passenger load factor improve from 81.7% in December to 86.7% in January, marking the biggest improvement in occupancy levels seen by any airline during the month.
For the industry as a whole, occupancy levels fell slightly because of the end of the tourist season.
However, compared to January last year, the total number of passengers were up 22.6% — possibly because of the lower fares offered by airlines that have been flying high on low jet fuel prices.
Air India not only led in passenger complaints, but also in cancellation of its flights. While some of the cancellations are unavoidable — for example, due to the weather — some are because of operational reasons.
Air India had a cancellation rate of 1.91%, meaning that there is a one in fifty chance of your Air India flight getting canceled.
In this criteria, Jet Lite was the best at 0.23% ,which implies that only 1 in 435 flights were canceled. Indigo also had a slightly elevated level of cancellation, at 0.97%, compared to 0.5% for most of its competitors like SpiceJet and Go Air.
Another factor that affects passenger experience is on-time performance. Here again, Vistara scored the highest with 86.6% of its flights leaving and arriving on time. This was followed by Jet, Indigo and SpiceJet, all of which hadd around 75% on-time-performance record during January. Air India continued to trail, with only 65% of its flights being on time.
In terms of airports, Hyderabad and Bangalore were at the top in terms of on-time-performance, while Delhi and Bombay competed with each other to be worst. Air India, for example, had a 81% on-time performance from Hyderabad, but only 61% from Delhi and Bombay.
The overall number for Air Asia and Go Air, which fly only from Delhi and Bangalore, were therefore affected by the rush at these two airports.