The vacation season is over, but airfares to long distance international destinations from Mumbai are at least 20% higher than they were during the same period last year, said travel agents.
Airfares to Europe and the US usually drop significantly starting June, but this year passengers are spending up to Rs. 20,000 more per air ticket. For instance, a return trip from Mumbai to Frankfurt cost around Rs. 42,000 last year. The same journey now costs at least Rs. 55,000.
"Now, most airlines use better inventory management technology. As a result very few tickets are available in the low fare band when the demand is high," said Anup Kanuga, a travel agent. He added that while one-way fares on these routes are still normal, return fares are extremely high as most flights are full.
The annual rise in ticket prices is about 7% to 10%. The consistent depreciation of the Indian Rupee and reduction of approximately 3000 seats a day owing to the on-going strike by Air India pilots have contributed to the fare hike, said tour operators.
"I extended my stay at London by five days because the difference in the return fare was a good Rs10,000," said Mehul Thakkar, an Airoli-based entrepreneur who went on a business-cum-leisure trip last week.
Travel agents added that those booking tickets with stopovers spend more than those taking a direct flight out of the city. "In other countries, June to August is the vacation period therefore airfares between two international destinations are expensive," said Jay Bhatia, western region chairman of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI). "Recent hikes in jet fuel prices have also added to the pressure."