NEW DELHI :Planning to fly during the festival season? Prepare to shell out a lot more this year.
Airfares for the Navratri season on some routes have doubled compared to the levels seen last year as well as in the pre-covid year of 2019, while fares in other routes remain elevated, data from travel portal Ixigo showed. Average fares for a Bengaluru-Kolkata flight during the second half of the Navratri period have shot up to over ₹14,000 from nearly ₹7,000 in the same period a year ago. Similarly, average fares for a Mumbai-Kolkata flight during the period are up by over 55% to more than ₹12,000, and up 25% to more than ₹10,000 for a Bengaluru-Patna flight.
For Diwali, which falls in the second week of November, average fares are already up to 70% more expensive than during the same season last year. A Bengaluru-Mumbai flight is 67% costlier, at approximately ₹5,000 on average, while a Bengaluru-Lucknow fare is up by 41% to more than ₹10,000. Similarly, a Chennai-Mumbai flight fare has spiked by 56% to over ₹5,600 for the period.
“For the upcoming festive season, there has been a notable spike of 72% in airfares when compared to the previous year. The route experiencing the most substantial increase is Delhi to Ahmedabad, followed closely by the Delhi to Srinagar route, which has seen an 89% surge,” said Nishant Pitti, chief executive and co-founder of EaseMyTrip.
This year, there has been an increase in advance bookings as well. Ixigo data shows flyers are booking at least 30 days in advance this year for both Navratri and Diwali, with advance bookings up by 30-35% from last year. EaseMyTrip has seen tickets booked as early as 80 days before travel.
“Due to the heightened demand and limited capacity, advance booking fares for Diwali in November this year are already exceeding those of last year’s by 35-40% on average. We anticipate a surge in travel demand for October and November this year, primarily driven by a sequence of events and festivals, including the Gandhi Jayanti long weekend, Navratri, ICC World Cup 2023 and Diwali,” Aloke Bajpai, co-founder and group CEO, Ixigo said.
India has been an outlier in air travel recovery after the pandemic. The suspension of flights by Go First and an aircraft shortage have led to a demand-supply mismatch, driving up fares.
Domestic air traffic in August rose 5.4% from the pre-pandemic period of August 2019 to 12.4 million air passengers. As a result, fares continue to be more expensive than the 2019 levels. “This escalation can be attributed to a combination of factors, including heightened demand for travel and limited flight capacity. As a result of these conditions, the cost of air travel during this timeframe has experienced a substantial surge,” Pitti said.
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