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Sidhartha Roy, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 09, 2012
Avinash Kumar, a consultant with a private firm in Noida, was planning to pay a surprise Diwali visit to his family back in Patna.

As it turns out, the surprise is on him. Despite booking train tickets in advance, he continues to be wait-listed, and due to the festive season, airfares have shot through the roof.

"Delhi-Patna airfares have gone up from the usual Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 18,000," said Kumar.

Delhi-Lucknow airfares, which usually cost Rs. 3,000-4,000, have gone up to Rs. 8,000-15,000, and Delhi-Jaipur tickets cost between Rs. 6,000 and 12,000 in contrast to the regular Rs. 4,000-5,000, while Delhi-Mumbai tickets cost Rs. 10,000-12,000, instead of Rs. 6,000-7,000, like they used to.

The festival rush is an annual affair, but what has spiked airfares even further is the shortage of seats what with Kingfisher not operational and other domestic airlines packed.

"There are no economy class seats available and even business class tickets are almost sold out. Demand is high every year, but this year, supply is not enough," said a senior Air India official, who did not wish to be named.

"If you get an air ticket, consider yourself lucky. The availability of seats is very low," said Rajji Rai of the Travel Agents Association of India.