Hundreds of passengers booked on Air India (AI) flights scheduled later this month are cancelling their bookings and switching to other private airlines.
On Monday, the AI pilots’ strike over pay parity entered its sixth day. Travel agents said people were being cautious because airfares continued to stay high on Monday.
“People do not mind spending Rs750 on cancellations instead of paying thousands later,” said Jay Bhatia, western region chairman of Travel Agents Association of India. Flight cancellations owing to the strike has resulted in a reduction of more than 10,000 passengers seats on domestic routes. On Monday, airfares on regular routes such as Mumbai and Delhi were double the normal rate.
For instance, a one-way economy class ticket between the two metros was priced at Rs16,000. Fares of flights scheduled within one hour of AI flights were highest. “We have been advising people to pick flights scheduled in the afternoon,” said Bhatia.
Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told airline CEOs on Monday to control airfares. “Private airlines are operating with 75% passenger occupancy on certain routes. They should accommodate Air India passengers without overcharging them,” said DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan.
The DGCA has also warned airlines from charging exorbitant spot fares. “We have told them to charge as per the prices published on their websites,” said Bhushan.