As thousands of people who have booked tickets on the national carrier are switching over to other domestic airlines, travel agents are likely to ask the Air India (AI) management to waive the cancellation charges on tickets till June 30. People are wary of travelling with the government-run airline as the ongoing pilot’s strike entered the seventh day on Tuesday.
Jay Bhatia, western region chairman, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), said: “We will request the AI management to waive the cancellation fees till June 30 as thousands of people are losing money while re-booking flights. However, we are not sure if the airline will give in to the demand.” TAAI represents around 200 travel agents in the country.
As the pilot protest that grounded 90% of AI’s domestic operations has reduced the domestic flight seats by more than 10,000 a day, air passengers are being forced to shell out huge sums to book tickets. The airline has operated only 40 flights out of its 320 domestic operations scheduled daily. Consequently, the spot and peak hour fares on regular metro routes have more than doubled. A one-way economy class ticket between Mumbai and Delhi, for instance, rose to Rs16,000.
Sources said that despite the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) intervention, tickets prices would be considerably high as the supply is less and the holiday rush has increased the demand. “The low-price tickets have been sold out. Only high-value tickets are left,” said a senior officer, commercial department of a private airline.
Meanwhile, the Delhi high court issued contempt notices to nine pilots affiliated with the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) for violating its previous resume work order.