Nirmalya Choudhury is to fly down to Kolkata on October 16. Presently based in Arizona, the robotic engineer will be home after 12 years to celebrate Durga Puja with his family at his Golpark residence.
Away in Florida, Indrani Banerjee, an executive at an advertising agency, has already packed her bags for a homecoming this Pujas. She is especially kicked about the visit this time as it will be the first time she flies down to her native Kolkata with husband Mark, a US citizen.
However, what could dull their spirits and those of the other NRIs who are keen to book a flight home in time for Bengal’s biggest carnival is that the air fares are heading north and likely to go higher as the demand for tickets rises this festive season. Since most of the international flights land in Delhi and Mumbai, the NRIs have to board planes from these cities to reach Kolkata. Airlines have used this opportunity to hike fares.
“A huge number of NRIs are visiting Kolkata this festive season and the rush for air tickets has prompted carriers to jack up prices. Last minute tickets are selling for almost double their original price,” Anuj Mishra, a Kolkata-based travel agent, told HT.
Travel operators said that techies in the city take transfers overseas and long to return home during Pujas. Most of them put in extra hours at work on off days and pile on their leaves so that they can take a long Puja vacation and fly home.
“Airlines are taking advantage. Prices for the last few seats currently available from the city, across all brackets, are sky high. While a Kolkata-Delhi return flight usually costs anywhere between Rs 8,000 and Rs 12,000, a last-minute booking will cost no less than Rs 20,000,” Mishra said.