Two days ahead of the year’s first long weekend, airfares on domestic routes have reached a new high, according to a comparative study of the fares for the coming and the next weekend.
On Monday, spot fares between metros and routes connecting metros with tourists hubs such as Goa had nearly doubled, showed the analysis conducted by travel operator, Cox and Kings Ltd.
For instance, the price of an economy class return trip from Mumbai-Goa, one of the shortest domestic routes in India, was Rs29,000.The same journey a week later will cost you Rs16,800, the report said. On some routes, the fare difference is more than 100%
A Delhi-Udaipur return flight on Republic Day (January 26), for instance, would cost Rs18,200, compared to Rs8,100 over the February 3-5 weekend.
‘We have seen a sharp increase in airfares and this surge is attributed to increase in demand for the first long weekend. This has happened despite airlines having ramped up their capacity,’’ said John Nair, head of business travel at Cox and Kings Ltd. He said the bookings predominantly came from solo travellers and a segment called double income no kids.
The most expensive domestic flight over the Republic Day weekend until Monday was from Delhi to Port Blair. The flight scheduled to leave from the capital on January 25 afternoon was priced at Rs55,200 – almost the cost of a return trip from the US.
Travel operator observed a similar rush for stay. Travel portal Cleartrip, for instance, saw an approximate spike of 190% in hotel bookings for the Republic Day weekend, against 139% for the same weekend last year. In 2016, the public holiday fell on a Tuesday.
A section of the industry said the spike in spot fares is not healthy for fliers. “What if someone has a medical emergency in their native place over long weekends? How would they afford a flight?” said a senior executive with an aviation think tank, requesting anonymity.
At least two governments had promised capping airfares, particularly during holidays, but failed. The Ashok Gajapathi Raju-led ministry , however, made it compulsory for airlines to submit a break-up of the steepest air tickets on a flight and the portion of the revenue earned through them.
Experts said while the move could give an indication of fare hikes during peak season, it does not help distressed fliers trapped in a long weekend.