If you are planning to fly out of the Capital this Diwali, be prepared to pay a fortune. Airfares have gone up three to four times for most cities, thanks to the Diwali rush.
Most flights are packed and ticket prices for the few available seats on flights to cities like Kolkata, Patna and Lucknow range between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.
"I made a last-minute plan to visit my parents in Patna for Diwali on Thursday. While usually tickets are available at around Rs 3,500, the cheapest ticket available was coming for Rs 9,000," said Rajnish Singh, a Vaishali resident. "I took me about 30 minutes to decide if I want to shell out that much but by that time, the price of the cheapest ticket had gone up to Rs 12,000." he added.
"All flights out of Delhi are completely packed and only a few full fare seats are available," said a senior Air India official who didn't wish to be identified.
While Delhi-Kolkata flights are going for an average of Rs 20,000, even short haul flights to Lucknow and Jaipur are available between Rs 10-15,000.
"This happens every year. You either book in advance or you are doomed," said Rajji Rai, President, Travel Agents Association of India. "I was in Goa for a business trip and wanted return a day earlier. The one-way ticket costed me Rs 28,700!" he said.
Despite repeated promises by the regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation that airlines wouldn't be allowed to profit during such rush seasons, the story repeats itself every year. DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan couldn't be contacted despite repeated attempts.