Travel portal lists Air India's Mumbai-Goa return fare between X'mas and New Year's at Rs 70,000; fare for Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore is half that price
If you are planning to fly to party capital Goa and back for New Year's, it's not just the hangover that will make your head spin. Riding on the back of the high festive spirit, airfares on the national carrier have soared to touch the sky, and the spontaneous among you -- too cool to make advance bookings -- may be left with no option but to book yourselves on a Mumbai-Goa return flight that costs nearly 70,000.
One of the Air India fares displayed on travel-booking portal makemytrip.com for a Mumbai-Goa round trip on the dates December 28 and January 1 is Rs 69,192 (see pic). The departure flights are AI-601/865 (Mumbai-Goa via New Delhi) and return flights are AI 866 and 421 (Mumbai-Goa via New Delhi). A dozen other fares on the same sector are between Rs 50,000-68,000.
Compare this with the national carrier's return fares for top five foreign destinations: London, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok, most of which are half this whopper.
The fares for Goa announced by other airlines during this merrymaking time are equally merciless, as a click through the online portals will make apparent. While some fliers have reviled the bare-knuckles arbitrary policy that airlines adopt, others point that promises of regulation and intervention from the government were never actualised.
Pramod Chavan, senior official at the commercials department of Air India, said, "I am not ready to accept that the fare is actually this high. I think the ticket portal which is hosting the fare would be able to explain better."
When this newspaper contacted Union Civil Aviation Secretary Nasim Zaidi, he said, "I would not be able to explain the fare statistics. You have to contact the Air India CMD." Despite repeated calls to CMD Rohit Nandan, he could not be reached for comment.
That's the way it is
The chief operating officer of makemytrip.com, Keyur Joshi, said, "Airfares are dynamic and fluctuate as per the demand and supply forces prevalent in the market. People who have planned and booked their travel in advance surely have an advantage. However, last minute planners would have to face concerns like high airfares, non-availability of hotel rooms and so on."
Last year, MiD DAY had first reported about the exorbitant airfares when ticket prices touched an all-time high ('Airfares go through the cloud', November 13). After a week, this paper revisited the fares and found that they were the same.
After our sustained campaign against the erratic hikes, the airline watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a circular to all the carriers to ensure transparency in deciding the fares. The circular asked the airlines to furnish a copy of route-wise tariffs across their network in various fare categories, in the manner it is offered in the market, to the DGCA on the first day of every calendar month.
Air India return fares for the dates December 28/January 1 for tourist hotspots:
Mumbai-Goa: Rs 69,192
Mumbai-Kuala Lumpur: Rs 49,941
Mumbai-London: Rs 45,870
Mumbai-Dubai: Rs 37,562
Mumbai-Bangkok: Rs 34,156
Mumbai-Singapore: Rs 34,756
Every year, authorities tell us that it would keep a check on different airlines to ensure it is flier-friendly and not arbitrary. But it never actually happens. The airlines do not want to miss any opportunity to fleece the fliers. But I would not blame them, as they never were concerned about the budget of fliers. It is the authorities that should be held responsible.
-- Manoj Maheshwari (39), frequent flier, Kandivli
I am unable to understand one thing: whether airlines in India exist to ferry the common people of this country or are they here to ferry only the tourists. There are thousands of people, including I, who are frequent fliers, making business trips. Now, the tickets are 5-10 times higher than normal. How can we afford to travel in such a scenario?
-- Rahul Verma, Bandra
The rates are much higher than on normal days. In the last few days, we have booked return tickets on the Mumbai-Goa sector for New Year that cost fliers Rs 30,000-40,000.
-- Devang Sanghvi, Venus Holidays travel agency