The Christmas season is unlikely to bring cheer for the airline industry as terror attacks in Mumbai, high passenger fares and the global financial meltdown have played spoilt sport.
As against a record 1,40,000 passengers carried by Indian carriers on December 22 last year, airlines and tour operators feel the number of air passengers will go down drastically by as much as 25 to 30 per cent this season.
“Travel to and within India will be affected because of the global meltdown and terror attacks in Mumbai,” said Raji Rai, president, Travel Agents Association of India. “This could lead to almost 30 per cent drop in air passenger traffic. Also travel advisories post Mumbai carnage will discourage tourists to India.”
Last year, an average one-way ticket on a full service carrier between Delhi and Mumbai was priced at Rs 4,630, where as this year the same ticket would cost Rs 6,000 and more.
“We have had several group bookings being cancelled. People are not keen on travelling with their families. It is still early but it is unlikely that airlines would carry the kind of loads that they carried same time last year,” a senior executive with a low cost carrier, who did not wish to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said.
“Many travellers are not booking now as they fear, that if they need to alter or cancel their travel they would lose a lot of money by way of cancellation charges,” said Ritika Modi, regional president of Unigloble travels.
But Air India is upbeat about this holiday season. “Our flights to new year destinations —Goa, Kerala and Port Blair — are fully booked for this holiday season. But it is too early to say weather we will carry the same number of passengers that we did last holiday season or not,” the spokesperson added.