Chinmay Gavankar found a novel way to put the scrapped Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes to use. The Vasai resident drove all the way to the airport to buy air tickets.
Normally, fliers who buy over-the-counter tickets have immediate travel plans, but this Information Technology (IT) professional purchased Goa-Mumbai Vistara tickets to travel almost three months later. “My in-laws are set to visit us next year. Since banks are overcrowded, I thought this was a better way to use the Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes I have,” he said.
Domestic airlines saw a sharp spike in air ticket sales over the past two days following the government’s ban on high denomination currency notes. Besides airlines, pharmacies, post offices and railways have been permitted to accept the banned currency notes until November 11.
A SpiceJet spokesperson said, “Fliers are on a panic booking spree and are booking tickets for a future date at the airport’s ticket counters.The airline has seen a 20% spike in bookings. The tickets bought at the counters are usually bought by those who want to travel on the same day.”
Other domestic airlines did not comment on a rise in bookings.
A statement issued by IndiGo Airlines read: “We are not accepting Rs500 and Rs1,000 denomination currency notes with effect from 0000 hrs on November 9, 2016, for any services whatsoever, including inflight sales, excess baggage charges and fast forward, with the only exception for airline tickets at airport ticket counters till November 11, 2016.”
Vistara issued a similar statement.
Industry sources said that on Thursday, flight tickets were sold only after submission of PAN card photocopies. “Several people bought lakhs worth business-class tickets soon after the PM’s announcement. It seems the rush might have been triggered by people who would cancel the tickets later to offset undeclared cash,” said a senior commercial officer with a private airline.
Cancellations charges account for about 20% of the ticket’s price. “That is a novel way to legalise hidden money,” said the official.