Even before the holiday season has begun, all airlines have jacked up their fares on many busy air routes by 10-25 % over the past few days.
One reason for the high fares was that the airlines, including the no-frill carriers, were cashing in on the severely curtailed services of the ailing Kingfisher Airlines.
While a special cell of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) monitors air fares on a regular basis, officials said the fares were "not higher than the (price) band submitted by the airlines themselves".
The government argues that air fares were regulated by the market and not by it, though they could take action if the prices went above the submitted price bands.
On the busiest Delhi-Mumbai route on which the last-minute return economy airfares averaged about Rs 9,000-10,000 in February when Kingfisher was carrying out large-scale cancellations, now range between a low of Rs 11,300 and a high of Rs 22,800.
Similarly, on the Delhi-Bangalore sector, economy return fares rose from an average of Rs 12,000-15,500 to Rs 17,000-23,000. The Delhi-Kolkata route saw a jump from Rs 10,000-12,000 to between Rs 15,000 and Rs 18,000, while that for Delhi-Srinagar ranged from Rs 10,500 to as high as Rs 34,194.
The Delhi-Chennai return fare now ranges between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,500, while that on the Delhi-Hyderabad sector between Rs 15,000 and Rs 19,000.
Most airlines showed that very few tickets were left even at the lowest fares now being offered.
Travel agents also confirmed the development, saying reduction of Kingfisher flights on some sectors have led to almost doubling of fares, with low fare buckets vanishing very soon. They also expected the fares to shoot up further when the holiday season actually began in May.