Delhi-Mumbai may lose world’s third busiest tag earned in 2017 this year

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It is the third busiest air route in the world, with as many as 47,500 departures and landings in 2017. Yet despite catapulting in this position, the Mumbai-Delhi route could face serious challenges is sustaining or improving it this year. The reason? Hardly any additional capacity is now available at Mumbai airport to deploy more flights on on this route.According to OAG, an air travel intelligence company based in UK, the Mumbai to Delhi air route was the third busiest in the world in 2017, with an average 130 flights between the two cities every day. In 2016 India was number six in the pecking order of the busiest routes, which was calculated based on the capacity deployed on the route one way. In 2017 only the Jeju-Seoul Gimpo route (with over 64,991 flights) and Melbourne-Sydney (54, 519 departures and arrivals) were busier than Mumbai-Delhi.The importance of the route can be gauged from the fact that airlines say that it make up about 10 per cent of the capacity and revenue of the airlines business–surely by far the biggest market. And, at an average passenger load factor on this route of around 80-90 per cent, it is pretty clear that it is a lucrative route in which the demand is growing.

After all, over 10,000 passengers depart every day from Mumbai for Delhi and vice versa.

Busiest routes in 2017
Route No of flights
Jeju-Seoul Gimpo 64,991
Melbourne-Sydney 54,519
Mumbai-Delhi 47,462
Fukuoka-Tokyo Haneda 42,835
Rio-de-Janeiro-Sao Paolo Congonhas 39,325
Sapporo-Tokyo Haneda 38,389
Los Angeles-San Francisco 34,897
Source: com

That is why IndiGo and Jet Airways, each of which has as many as 17 departures from Mumbai top of the list, followed by Air India (eleven flights), Vistara (10), Go Air (7) and SpiceJet (4).Yet, the writing is on the wall. While most airlines are pushing for more capacity on the route, none is available. Says a senior executive of a leading airline on the route: “If slots are available, we can easily achieve a growth of around 10-12 per cent on this route every year. But as slots are not available, the only possibility is to deploy bigger planes. But everyone does not have that flexibility, especially the LCCs”.Last year, for instance, only Vistara and Indigo were given some additional slots on the route. According to CAPA estimates, the airport, which has a maximum capacity of around 50-52 million per annum, is already handling over 46-50 departures a hour, which pretty close to the global best of around 55.The agency says that the airport would reach its full capacity either by FY18 and surely by 2019, which makes the development of the new airport in Navi Mumbai so important. Currently the airport already handles over 45 million passengers a year.business-standard