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Christmas surge in flights

india Updated: Dec 22, 2006 02:14 IST

The festival fever is raging. And Indians have never flown so high.

The carriers are having trouble accommodating the surge. This weekend, more than 100,000 people will criss-cross the country on various airlines, setting a record of sorts. Public sector Indian (Indian Airlines) has so far reported more than 36,235 bookings across various destinations on December 23.

December has been hectic. The government-owned carrier flew more than 29,000 people on two days of the month (December 15 and December 20) and more than 28,000 on another two days — December 10 and December 12.

The economy carriers are also raking in the moolah. The country’s first low-cost carrier (LCC), Air Deccan is flying to “near capacity” and has booked 23,5000 passengers for various flights on Saturday, representing close to 98 per cent load factor of its total capacity of nearly 24,000 seats.

Air Sahara, which is wresting back lost space after the abortive merger bid with Jet Airways, is also flying near capacity on the weekend with more than 15,000 passengers booked against a capacity of 16,000.

Official figures of other airlines also showed similar trends. Travel industry analysts said almost all of them would be flying near capacity on December 23.

The industry on the whole has a total capacity of over 100,000 seats per day operating more than 1,200 flights daily.

On an average, till November this year, the airlines ferried about 70,000 passengers every day. Travel analysts said the number of bookings on the particular day was unprecedented.

“There was a similar trend a couple of days before Diwali this year, but the volumes were not as high.

“Since Diwali, many airlines have added capacity and the volume of bookings during this weekend as compared to Diwali in October is almost over 20 per cent higher,” said Dhruv Shingri, director and founder of online travel services company,

While flights to all destinations are packed, Goa and Kerala are turning out to be the tourist hotspots. The schedules are packed and there is barely room for last-minute revellers.

“The volumes are higher by about 23 per cent at this time of the year as compared to last year. Domestically, Goa and Kerala are the hottest destinations, while Southeast Asian locations are the favourites among international destinations,” said Ankur Bhatia, executive director of the Bird Group, a travel service and software company.

The rush is less during the weekend leading up to the New Year’s day. “People usually prefer to party at home rather than go out of their city,” Bhatia said.

Email Gaurav Choudhury: gaurav