Planning your summer vacation? Airfares set to stay higher

Aviation industry will bounce back from this temporary setback as existing carriers are bullish on the Indian market, say experts

MUMBAI : It was a gradual process, but by mid-April, 123 planes were out of Indian skies after Jet Airways suspended its operations. Both domestic and international flights were grounded, after bankers refused to provide interim funding to the airlines.The halt in operation also meant job loss for the Jet Airways employees.

If you are planning your travel around this time, you will feel the pinch of higher airfare. “The impact on the cost was felt even before Jet Airways shut down operations completely. The airline had been reducing the number of flights over the last few weeks. A day before the airline shut operations, it was operating around five aircraft. In April, prices were up by 18% year-on-year. In case of bookings done a week before the travel, prices have increased by 50%," said Balu Ramachandran, head of air and distribution, Cleartrip.

Passengers will continue to feel the pinch in the near future. The cost of flying without Jet Airways in the system has gone up by at least 15%. “Airfares have climbed across domestic sectors by at least 15%. On key international routes, such as Europe and the US, the cost has gone up by 20 to 30%. However, this is only for the next 10 to 15 days. If you book one month in advance even today, the chances are that you will be able to grab a reasonable fare," said John Nair, head— business travel, Cox & Kings Ltd.

(Illustration: Shrikrishna Patkar)


In case of international travel, there is no major impact. “As of now, it is the India-UK sector which has been impacted the most. This is for those passengers who had booked their tickets on Jet and are now re-booking it with other carriers. However, we have also noticed that the fares to the Far East— namely, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, and the wider Southeast Asian network have not gone up significantly as there are low-cost carriers operating on the IndiaSouth East Asia route," said Nair. He further said travellers who have not yet booked their holiday can opt for these destinations and enjoy a value-for-money holiday.

According to experts, the aviation industry will bounce back from this temporary setback as existing carriers are bullish on the Indian market.

“While withdrawal of Jet flights during the peak vacation season has had an impact on capacity and airfares, positive developments such as the introduction of special fares by carriers like Air India and Spice Jet, reports of dry and wet leasing of Jet’s aircraft by other airlines, and optimisation of airport slots should result in increased capacity and subsequent stabilisation in fares," said Indiver Rastogi, president-global business travel, Thomas Cook India Ltd. You can expect the rates to stabilise a few weeks later.

In such a situation, what should you do? It is difficult to predict a situation like a Jet Airways crisis. Prices are unlikely to normalise within a few weeks. Industry experts continue to advice booking tickets and planning in advance for your holidays to get the best deal.

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