ANALYSIS: Airlines in South Asia - The Biggest and Fastest Growing Operators

Ahead of this year's World Routes forum, Routesonline is providing another look at our series of articles on the leading airlines and airports and most used aircraft types across regions of the world last year. Here we look closely at the airlines of South Asia and highlight the region's top performers.

Ahead of this year's World Routes forum, Routesonline is providing another look at our series of articles on the leading airlines and airports and most used aircraft types across regions of the world last year.  Here we look closely at the airlines of South Asia and highlight the region's top performers.

​ The data is all supplied by OAG Aviation using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool.

Scheduled Air Capacity From South Asia (2005 - 2014)

Our analysis of published schedules for the past ten years shows that air capacity within and from South Asia has risen from 69,033,731 available seats in 2005 to 158,760,706 available seats in 2014.  This represents a growth of 130.0 per cent across the period, an average annual increase of 14.4 per cent.  In the past year capacity increased 7.3 per cent.

Top Ten Airlines in the South Asian Market (2014)

The arrival of independently owned competitors to India’s state offering has significantly changed the dynamics of aviation across South Asia, with Air India now only the third largest carrier in the region by departure capacity in 2014 having been overtaken by India’s new breed of airlines.

It is budget operator IndiGo that leads the way with a 17.9 per cent share of available departure seats within and from South Asia in 2014, just ahead of Jet Airways with a 13.9 per cent share. Air India follows in third with a 13.2 per cent share ahead of other Indian carriers SpiceJet (11.5 per cent) and then GoAir (5.2 per cent).

Emirates Airline was the largest non-Indian airline in the South Asian market by departure capacity in 2014 with a 3.3 per cent share of departure seats, while the influence of the Gulf carriers and strong ethnic flows between South Asia and the Gulf States is evident with Qatar Airways also among the top ten airlines in this market.

Fastest Growing Airlines in the South Asian Market (2010-2014)

Looking at capacity data in the region across a five year period, it is Air India that has grown by the biggest margin with capacity up 388.3 per cent from 2010, thanks in a big part to the integration of Indian Airlines into its operations in 2012.

The growth of the Indian market is clear when you consider the strong growth also recorded by low-cost carrier IndiGo and Go Air in South Asia with available seats within and from the region more than trebling between 2010 and 2014.

Elsewhere, Etihad Airways has more than doubled its capacity in South Asia, thanks to its investment in local carrier Jet Airways as has Maldivian which has grown from a regional to mainline operation during the last five years.

Data comparison between 2013 and 2014 shows that the recent purchase of an equity stake by United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier Etihad Airways in Indian carrier Jet Airways has enabled the airline to grow its own capacity in South Asia. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier recorded the largest year-on-year growth among the top twenty airlines in this region over the last two years, up 45.1 per cent.

Indian low-cost carriers have also shown strong growth between 2013 and 2014 with available capacity within and from South Asia increasing 21.6 per cent at IndiGo and 21.5 per cent at GoAir. Double-digit growth was also recorded by Air Arabia (up 16.4 per cent), SpiceJet (up 14.6 per cent), Biman Bangladesh Airlines (up 14.5 per cent), Saudia (up 11.4 per cent), Qatar Airways (up 10.8 per cent) and Shaheen Air International (up 10.6 per cent).

The schedules data shows that four of the top ten and six of the top twenty airlines in South Asia by departure seats reported capacity declines between 2013 and 2014: India’s JetLite (S2) witnessed the latgest decline with capacity down 23.3 per cent; Pakistan International Airlines reduced capacity 16.4 per cent; Air India Express declined 6.5 per cent; Thai Airways International reduced its capacity in the region 6.0 per cent, while Jet Airways and SriLankan Airlines had more modest capacity declines of 2.3 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively.

Scheduled South Asia Capacity by Aircraft Type

The chart below shows which aircraft types were most prevalent in the South Asian market during 2014. The schedule data shows the Airbus A320 (320) is the most widely used aircraft type in this market with a 34.2 per cent share of available seats with overall network capacity up 17.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014 from 3.31 million seats to 54.28 million seats.

The second most utilised aircraft type in this market is the Boeing 737 all series (737) with a 9.3 per cent share, while third most widely operated type by network capacity is the Boeing 737-800 (738) with a 9.2 per cent share.

The biggest rise in annual capacity among the top ten aircraft types were recorded by the Boeing 737-800 (738) with a 30.2 per cent rise in available seats in 2014 versus 2013. The largest decline in annual capacity was recorded by the Boeing 737-800 (winglets) (73H) with a fall of 11.4 per cent, while Airbus A330-200 (332) capacity declined 10.2 per cent.

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