Businessmen, NRIs push airfare by 20 pc | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Businessmen, NRIs push airfare by 20 pc

An urgent call from his New York office last week made Tushar Kadam, a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), cut short his holiday in Mumbai. Despite stretching his budget by Rs 20,000, the senior executive with an Information Technology firm did not get an air ticket.

mumbai Updated: Jan 20, 2010 01:18 IST
Soubhik Mitra

An urgent call from his New York office last week made Tushar Kadam, a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), cut short his holiday in Mumbai. Despite stretching his budget by Rs 20,000, the senior executive with an Information Technology firm did not get an air ticket.

“I called three travel agents but was told that all flights are packed,” said the 43-year-old who visited his family in Khar after a year.

According to travel agents, an “unprecedented travel rush” by NRIs and Indians on business trips has pushed international airfares up by 20 per cent for popular destinations such as London and New York.

“Higher passenger volumes have pushed airfares up by 20 per cent up compared to the same period last year. This year’s rates are 10 per cent more than that of 2008,” said, Anup Kanuga of Bathija Travels.

As a result, Jugal Kukreja, a businessman, paid Rs 65,000 for an economy class round trip from Mumbai to New York. The same journey would have cost him at Rs 45,000 last year.

Cashing in on the demand, airlines have created sub-classes within the economy class. “This is a common practice during peak season. Airlines hold back seats depending on demand and release them for a higher price,” Kanuga said. The economic slowdown and the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008 had taken a toll on international travel last year. Data released by Mumbai International Airport Limited reveals that the number of passengers dropped from 7.76 lakh in January 2008 to 7.55 lakh in January 2009.

Better flight scheduling across airlines this year has improved passenger loads. “Most flights are packed because airlines have cut down flights as part of their route rationalisation policy,” said Rajesh Rateria, managing director, Cirrus Travels and western region chairman of the Travel Agent Association of India.