I haven’t met one passenger in the past few months, in person or on Social Media, who hasn’t complained about high airfares. I have yet to meet industry executives similarly in the past few months who haven’t grinned ear to ear about the same situation. After two years of living through the pandemic, fare caps, dropping fares and room rates to no end to get people to travel again (or stimulate demand, as they say), demand came back strong in the last quarter of 2022 (October – December 2022), and it lifted everyone with it.
Q4CY22/Q3FY23 becomes a solid quarter for industry players
Despite knowing that fares are high, people continued travelling the last few months, leading to 4.5 Crore domestic passengers in October – December 2022. For reference, the quarter prior (July – September 2022) had 3.02 Crore domestic passengers, so there was a straight-up 50% rise in the number of people flying, leading to an overall 80% plus occupancy on domestic flights.
This quarter traditionally is robust and comes with the festivals packed in, including Diwali, Dussehra, Durga Puja, Christmas and New Year and others. Apart from that, a tonne of Indian weddings during this season, so no doubt, people were travelling for leisure, but a lot of people were back on their weekly travel schedules for work as the effect of the pandemic started to get away.
Vistara breaks even on the back of a strong quarter (ended December 2022)
Vistara, for the first time since its inception, reported a net profit (excluding unrealised foreign currency loss and non-operating income) for the quarter that ended December 2022. The airline reported breaking even for the first time in the quarter that ended in December 2022. For the quarter that ended December 2022, the airline grew its capacity by 37% and passengers by 47% compared to the same period last year.
The airline achieved its highest-ever domestic market share of 10.4% in July 2022. It has maintained its position as the second-largest domestic airline in India since then, flying more than 11 million passengers in the calendar year 2022. Vistara also registered an 11% year-on-year growth in the member base for its frequent flyer program – Club Vistara.
Vistara grew its international network by over 180% in 2022 by adding seven additional routes, including three new destinations (Jeddah, Abu Dhabi and Muscat). It also grew its domestic network by over 50% by adding six new routes, including two new destinations (Coimbatore and Jaipur).
IndiGo records its best quarterly result yet.
InterGlobe Aviation (IndiGo), the market leader in Indian aviation with over 55% market share, also posted its highest-ever quarterly revenue of INR 15,410.2 crores in the December quarter, up 63% from the year earlier and 20% from the quarter before.
IndiGo said robust demand on account of the peak travel season was the reason behind topline growth. Net profit for IndiGo came in at INR 1,422.6 crore, compared to a net loss of INR 1,583.3 crore in the quarter before this.
As per IndiGo’s result filings, the cost-per-available-seat-kilometre(CASK) rose 18% from the year-ago to INR 4.77 but fell 7.3% sequentially, which was in part because India changed the pricing mechanism for aviation turbine fuel past quarter. Jet fuel, however, still costs about 50% more than a year before. Yield rose to INR 5.38 per km (up 25% y-o-y and 6% q-o-q).
IHCL reports an outstanding quarter
IHCL, the Tata-group company that owns and operates the Taj, Vivanta and SeleQtions chain of hotels, Ginger Hotels and QMin, also saw a solid quarter. IHCL reported a profit after tax of INR 383 Crores, which was more than the full-year profit after tax for any other quarter. That also means the whole year’s Profit After Tax will be great for them (unless they drop the ball in Q4FY23).
Additionally, in this financial year (April 2022-March 2023), over 30 hotels have been added to the pipeline, and 14 hotels have been opened, besides strong growth in amã Stays & Trails with 108 homestays and Qmin with over 25 outlets. Per IHCL, the demand outlook for the sector in 2023 remains robust on the back of sporting events such as World Cup hockey and cricket, the ongoing G20 and the recovery of inbound and corporate travel.
EaseMyTrip delivers profits too!
In line with the growth in travel, EaseMyTrip delivered a profitable quarter. EMT is an OTA which listed recently, and a look at their results shows that their Profit After Tax for the past quarter was INR 406.2 Crores, which was 41% higher than a year ago at INR 286.8 crores. EaseMyTrip calls itself the only profitable OTA in India!
Finally, it seems the Indian customer has started to pay a premium for the product and services they consume as a travel company. The profitability across the board in the sector also shows this effect. As seen after scanning through OTA presentations and airline presentations, and so on, the promotional costs/discounts are going down, the topline is going up, and record profits are being seen. I do hope some of this profit also goes to employees as a profit sharing or increased salary, but overall, the trend of upwards pricing will not stop anytime soon. I am seeing 4-star hotels at INR 15,000 for a room night in deep suburban Mumbai for the end of March 2023 as I write this…
What do you make of the past quarter’s financials of travel service providers?
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