The strike by a section of Air India employees unions spelt windfall for private airlines at the Delhi Airport.
With large number of Air India flights grounded due to the strike, many passengers took a refund of the ticket amount and tried booking tickets at other airlines. The airfares, however, had skyrocketed, both on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Usually a one way Delhi-Mumbai air ticket is available between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000 but the seats available today are going for anything between Rs 14,000 and Rs 17,000. Even the low cost carriers increased their fares,” said Sukesh Ranjan, a passenger stranded at the domestic departure terminal of Indira Gandhi International Airport.
“I have to be in Mumbai today for an important meeting and have no option but to book a ticket at this exorbitant rate.”
Apart from flights for busy sectors like Delhi-Mumbai, airfare for non-metro airports was also very high with Air India unable to operate its flights to small sectors.
“The same thing happened last year during the strike by employees of Jet Airways. Airlines are charging Rs 12,000 for tickets that cost Rs 4,000 normally,” said Rajji Rai of the Travels Agents Association of India.
“Passengers who have to attend important meetings, family functions or have planned schedules are forced to pay.”
The airlines, however, denied that they have hiked fares and said the increase is based on demand and supply.
“We haven’t hiked air fares. Our flights are all running 75 per cent full due to the summer rush and all lower brackets are full, leaving only the higher bracket tickets,” said a Jet Airways spokesperson.
A Kingfisher Airlines also denied there’s a link between increased fares with the strike.
“We have an arrangement with Air India and the passengers they refer to us are accommodated in our flights at the same price. However, passengers themselves booking tickets have to pay normal prices.”