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A Jet Airways passenger aircraft prepares to land at the airport in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad August 12, 2013. [Representational Image]Reuters file

In what has been described as a 'lovely start for the Indian aviation industry' in 2018, the domestic airlines carried 1.14 crore passengers in January as against 95.79 lakh in January 2017 to register a growth of 19.69 percent.

SpiceJet continues to top the load factor by flying its planes 95 percent full. It was followed by GoAir, which flew its planes with 90 percent seats full. IndiGo and Jet Lite both came third by flying its planes with 89.7 percent seats full, The Economic Times reported.

According to Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the passenger load factor in January has shown an increasing trend compared to previous months primarily due to the ongoing tourist season.  

Citing the figures, Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju also took to Twitter to claim that India is now being considered to be one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world.

The data of On-Time Performance (OTP) reveals that Indigo topped the list by operating 75.4 percent of its flights on time. Jet Airways along with its low-cost operator JetLite reported the worst OTP of January. SpiceJet operated 74.4 percent of its flights on time, followed by GoAir (67.4 percent), Air India (66.9 percent) and Vistara (66 percent).

Meanwhile, according to UK-based OAG Aviation Worldwide, three domestic routes in India also emerged as the top 20 busiest domestic air routes around the world. The Mumbai-Delhi air route was selected as the third-busiest in 2017. The Bengaluru-Delhi and Bengaluru-Mumbai routes were also featured in the list.

Experts from the aviation industry say that passengers are now choosing Indian Railways over air travel due to low airfares and shorter travel time.

"The lower airfares have been a result of induction of more seat capacity as well as crude oil prices staying stable. Major carriers further fuelled the growth by announcing sales during the month, despite it being a peak travel month. We do expect this growth trend to continue in the coming months," Sharat Dhall, the chief operating officer of B2C Business at Yatra Online, was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.