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Flights for summer vacations to become expensive


People wanting to fly out over the summer vacations may need to shell out between 10% to 50% more in ticket prices compared to last year, travel industry experts have said, citing the collapse of budget carrier Go First, which has shrunk the availability of bookings.

Passengers at Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi. (Sanjeev Verma/HT File Photo) Passengers at Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi. (Sanjeev Verma/HT File Photo) The increase is on top of the premium people are already paying for taking flights this year, after the war in Ukraine drove up oil prices and a post-Covid surge in demand has thrust ticket prices to significantly higher levels compared to pre-Covid rates.

“The outlook for the Indian aviation sector is on the grim side as it is may be too late to revive Go First. This is bad news for passengers as air fares have soared unexpectedly with all airlines having hiked fares. Passengers will have no choice left but to travel at exorbitant fares,” said aviation expert Vipul Saxena, who is a former defence pilot.

Go First halted operations on May 3 and approached India’s authorities to begin bankruptcy proceedings. The Mumbai-based airline connected several key holiday destinations from metro cities, as well as short-haul international tourist destinations.

These included flights to Phuket, Male, Srinagar and Leh, Chandigarh, and Bagdogra – all of which are either holiday pit stops or connecting airports for popular tourist destinations.

According to the summer schedule — for flights between March 26 and October 28 — approved for Go First, the airline was cleared to operate 1,538 flight departures per week. The schedule approved, to be sure, does not always represent the number of flights a carrier will operate; they often operate at much lower levels.

According to an EaseMyTrip spokesperson, airfares were down by 20% in the pandemic years of 2020, 2021 and some parts of 2022.

“This year, we are seeing a 30-40% rise in the airfare for major routes,” said Nishant Pittie, CEO and co-founder of EaseMy trip, comparing prices with 2019 to today.

Pittie said prices had surged significantly already. “The cost of domestic flights has increased by 30-40% from the year prior to the pandemic (2019). Domestic travel demand is increasing 9% more this year than it did last year. During this time, airfares on India’s main air routes have increased by 50–60% “ he said.

According to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data, the total number of passengers who took flights in 2019 were 25.2 million in April and roughly 29 million in May and June. While the data for April 2023 has not been released yet, the month of March shows a sustained increase – in March 2019, 28.1 million passengers flew in India, while this year, in the same month, this number was 31 million.

Some online travel agencies (OTAs) have seen an up to 25% increase in domestic flight bookings as compared to 2019, which was a period of high demand.

Sabina Chopra, COO, corporate travel, and head, industry relations, at Yatra.Com said: “We have (overall) witnessed an uptick of 20-25% in the domestic travel segment and 15-20% in the international segment as compared to pre-Covid levels. The range is similar for summer 2019 vs summer 2023 as well.”

Rising airfares, owing to the war and the subsequent rise in fuel costs, could however dampen air travel plans, Chopra said.

According to the OTA, a Delhi-Goa flight that cost ₹8,000 last year is now at ₹12,000. Similarly, a one-way Delhi- Kolkata that cost ₹3,000-3,500 last year now costs roughly ₹55,000 on average.

A third expert said hotel bookings too reflected high demand, which means a drop in prices was unlikely.

“The average nights booked for outbound packages for the summer quarter is 27% higher than last year’s corresponding period; and almost 85% higher than the pre-pandemic average. In domestic packages, too, we have seen a 54% increase in average room nights booked this year over the corresponding period in 2019. The preference for relaxed itineraries has positively impacted average per-passenger spend. Travellers are seeking experience-led travel, resulting in more bookings with pre-booked activities,” said Rajesh Magow, co- founder and Group CEO, MakeMyTrip.


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