New Delhi: In a development that could be of serious concern to Indian carriers, Dubai-based Emirates flew more international travellers in and out of India than Air India in 2011-12, according to official data.
Jet Airways, however, grabbed little more of the market share than Emirates when it came to international air traffic emanating out of India.
While Emirates cornered 13.04 percent of the total market share of India, flying 45.32 lakh passengers in and out of the country in 2011-12, Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express jointly carried 41.38 lakh passengers or 11.91 percent, the data showed.
The global market share of Jet Airways was 15.7 percent as the private carrier flew 54.53 lakh travellers during the period. Other Indian carriers like Kingfisher Airlines, which was flying then, had a market share of 3.24 percent, IndiGo had 1.19, SpiceJet 0.86 and JetLite 0.31 percent.
Industry sources said the trend, which continued in the past year, is likely to go on till Indian carriers match the Gulf carrier's route network.
In the same period, no other global carrier was in double- digits in terms of market share, with two more Gulf carriers -- Qatar Airways and Air Arabia -- being in the second and third places with 4.41 and 4.31 percent respectively.
German airline Lufthansa was in the fourth place with 3.42 percent, while another Gulf carrier Oman Airways took the fifth place with 2.75 percent market share. British Airways was the sixth with 2.70 percent, SriLankan Airways occupied the seventh spot (2.45) and Cathay Pacific in the eighth (2.14) place.
Etihad, Malaysian and GulfAir were in the ninth, tenth and 11th positions respectively with 1.95, 1.87 and 1.51 percent, the data showed.
While 2011-12 was a tough period for Indian carriers, Air India, which saw a 10-day pilots strike in 2011 and another 58-day strike in 2012, has since tried to gear up its Gulf connectivity to regain its share of the attractive market.
Similar has been the case for Jet and no-frill carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet, as Kingfisher remained grounded.
The industry sources, however, say it would be difficult for Indian carriers to match Emirates because of its network to fly Indian passengers beyond its Dubai hub to the US, Europe and Africa. The Dubai carrier has also been increasing its flights to London and the US over the past few months.
Emirates' West Asia and Indian Ocean region, of which India is a large market, contributes 10.6 percent to its overall revenues, according to its 2011-12 Annual Report.
Even airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa were facing the challenge posed by Emirates, considering that India was a massive market for both these European legacy carriers, they said.
Emirates' competitor Etihad Airways is in final stages of a discussion with Jet Airways for a possible equity partnership.
If the deal materialises, Emirates might take stronger steps to defend its market share as Etihad would gain access to Indian cities through Jet, the sources said.