Domestic airfares began to rise on Wednesday soon after a section of Air India pilots went on an indefinite strike, resulting in many domestic flight cancellations. Airfares on busy metro routes such as Mumbai-Delhi went up by 15 %, said travel agents. This is because by evening, 43 flights to and from Mumbai alone were cancelled, causing a reduction of about 4,000 seats.
“Fares on regular routes are marginally higher but fares of flights connecting tier-two cities with metros are nearly double the normal rates,” said Jay Bhatia, western region chairman, Travel Agents Association of India.
For instance, an economy class one-way ticket between Mumbai and Udaipur that usually costs between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000 was selling at Rs 15,000. “I booked some clients to Mumbai via Ahmedabad because all direct flights were sold out by Wednesday evening,” Bhatia added.
Travel portals said because of the strike, many prospective travellers had shifted bookings to other airlines. “Fares appear to have gone up because the stock of lower fares got sold out. Now, only the higher fares’ inventory is available,” said Sunny Sodhi, vice-president (Air Product), Yatra.com.
The aviation regulator, however, said that airfares were slightly higher because of the seasonal rush in traffic.
“All the domestic airlines have agreed to accommodate Air India passengers without increasing fares. There is a marginal rise because of the holiday rush and increase in the price of aviation fuel,” said Lalit Gupta, deputy director general, Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
A Spicejet Airline spokesperson said that it had been accommodating stranded Air India passengers at no extra cost.