Airfares go sky high

Airlines increase fleet and serve a threefold hike on ticket prices; tour operators fear that the average traveller will have to shelve travel plans this Diwali

Last minute rush takes on a whole new meaning this Diwali, as a surge in airfare will affect holiday travel, say travel agents.

Costs in certain sectors such as Mumbai to New Delhi have increased by as much as Rs 5,000 with fares going up to Rs 18,000.

Pic for representational purpose

Tour operators have noticed a threefold increase in fares across most domestic sectors, and are worried that last minute bookings -- a regular trend among travellers during the Diwali -- will fall through given the high prices.

The association of tour operators have appealed to airlines to bring down the fare, but they say the airlines have turned a deaf ear to their pleas.

However, almost all airline companies have increased their fleet size, anticipating high number of passengers.
President of Travel Agents Association Of India (TAAI-national) Iqbal Mulla said, "We have appealed to the airlines to bring down the airfare. Unfortunately, chances of that happening are bleak. This is the time when families want to travel, but airfare has skyrocketed."

As a result, air travel has taken a hit, pointed out Mulla.

While the demand for tickets to destinations like Kolkata and New Delhi are high, ticket prices have shot up by almost 30 per cent. "Many have booked tickets on the current airfare", Mulla said, but "festive travel has taken a hit."

"The aviation ministry needs to keep a check on this. Every year, airfare touches new levels that are out of the reach of the average traveller. There should be some bracket to the hike," said a travel agent from Mahalaxmi.

Partik Kudwa, a frequent traveller, said, "During off-season, one can plan a return trip to Jaipur for Rs 6,000.

However, this Diwali, the situation seems to be out of control, with prices going as high as 15,000. This is simply unfair to all passengers. I have postponed my trip to Jaipur this Diwali. Is the government doing nothing about this?"

"Passengers should boycott flights. Only then will airline companies realise what they are doing," Kudwa added.
Last year, prices rose by almost 200 per cent during Diwali. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation then intervened to bring them down.

Stay home this Diwali
A look at ticket prices in some of the sectors:
Rs 13, 500-18,000
Rs 15 to 30,000
Rs 20- 29,000
Mumbai-Trivandrum: Rs 11-28,000
Rs 5,000-Rs 31,000

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