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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Flight prices soar as Independence Day weekend nears

Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 12, 2013
First Published: 02:05 IST(12/8/2013) | Last Updated: 20:48 IST(12/8/2013)

When Airoli resident Prashant Naidu booked a one-way flight from Mumbai to Goa for Rs. 6,500 he knew it was almost double the normal rates. But the chartered accountant went ahead with the purchase because he felt it was a small price to savour the year’s last long weekend.

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With Independence Day falling on a Thursday, many working professionals from the city have taken leave on the subsequent day to carve out a small vacation.

“The next long holiday after this weekend will be Diwali when one would want to stay home and host relatives. That makes the upcoming weekend priceless,” Naidu said.

Travel operators said flights to tourist destinations such as Goa, Udaipur, Munnar and Kovalam were nearly 80% booked until Friday, which pushed fares on these routes to almost double the standard rate card.  For instance, the average fare for a return journey from Mumbai to Udaipur was Rs. 20,000, at least Rs. 6,000 more than the normal rates. Fares on metro routes however, were unaffected, a Mumbai-Kolkata economy class ticket being available for Rs. 4,800.

In fact, the fares for domestic tourist destinations were at par or differed marginally with short haul foreign destinations such as Singapore and Dubai. While an economy class return journey from Mumbai to Singapore was available for Rs. 25,000, a return trip to Dubai was priced at Rs. 19,000.

“It seems that people want to utilise the weekend to unwind at a tourist destination as against visiting family. Thus, fares to tourists destinations are high, while busy metro routes are relatively cheap,” said Jay Bhatia, chairman, (western region) Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI).

Meanwhile some luxury hotels at these destinations have halved their room tariffs, further fuelling demand.  For instance, DoubleTree, the Hilton property on Baga beach in Goa has slashed room rents by 20%. 

Travel experts added that there has been a steady increase in people taking short vacations. “Indian travelers have been taking more of shorter, frequent holidays instead of one or two long vacations earlier,” said Vikram Malhi, general manager (South and Southeast Asia) with travel portal Expedia.

“This trend has reflected in the bookings made during the long weekends, especially at the time of festivals like Ramzan and the upcoming Independence Day”.

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