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Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Airfares on certain routes remain high amid covid-19 outbreak

  • Average one-way fare between Chennai-New Delhi during June stood at 8,079, up 19.66% from 6,751 during the same period of the previous year

NEW DELHI : With airlines operating at a limited capacity amidst the covid-19 pandemic that has battered passenger demand, airfares on a select few routes remained considerably higher during June, as compared to the same period of the previous year, data from online travel companies showed.

For instance, one-way fares in June between key cities like Chennai-New Delhi, Hyderabad-Mumbai, Hyderabad-New Delhi, Mumbai-Hyderabad, Mumbai-New Delhi, Mumbai-Kolkata, Mumbai-Patna remained considerable higher than last year, according data from online travel companies Cleartrip and Ixigo.

An average one-way fare between Chennai-New Delhi during June stood at 8,079, up 19.66% from 6,751 during the same period of the previous year, according to data from Ixigo.

Similarly, average one way fares during June between Hyderabad-Mumbai was up 51.28%, as compared to the same period of previous year, at 5,234.

During June, average one-way fares between Hyderabad-New Delhi were higher by 11.4%, while such fares between Mumbai-Hyderabad, and Mumbai-Kolkata were higher by 64.8% and 63.9% respectively.

Fares between Mumbai-New Delhi, one of the busiest domestic sectors stood 20.7% higher during June 2020, as compared to the previous year, while fares between Mumbai-Patna saw a massive rise by 74.53% during the same period.

Restrictions by state governments in flight operations to certain cities like Mumbai and Kolkata have further pushed up air fares in these sectors.

"Spike in airfares currently are largely for ex-Mumbai routes. This can be due to a decrease in flight capacity as compared to pre-pandemic levels," said Rajnish Kumar, Co-founder of Ixigo.

"Under normal circumstances a decrease in capacity on a busy route like Mumbai leads to a 80-85% increase in airfares as seen in the past. However due to airfare capping by the government the increased cost of air travel is still limited," Kumar added.

However, one way air fares on otherwise busy routes like New Delhi-Kolkata, New Delhi-Bangalore and New Delhi-Mumbai have fallen between between 7-10% annually during June, according to data from Cleartrip.

The overall yields for airlines are down, as only few routes are seeing good demand while airlines are flying near-empty planes on other routes, a Delhi-based senior airline official said.

"After domestic operations resumed in May, it was noticed that there was a strong demand for flights from bigger cities like Delhi and Mumbai to smaller cities and towns like Patna, and Indore. This was probably because the workforce, who were stuck in these cities during lockdown, returned home in masses," said the senior airline official, who requested anonymity.

"Fares remained high on routes which saw higher demand as compared to routes which were seeing lower demand," the official added.

It must however be noted that air fares are currently being regulated by the government, who have imposed a cap on fares that can be charged by airlines. This move by the government has prevented airlines from setting their own fares. The government has recently extended the cap on domestic air fares by three months to 24 November.

Indian airlines struggled to fill seats during June as travel demand remained muted amidst the pandemic. The country's airlines carried 1.98 million passengers during June, down from 12.03 million passengers during the same period in the previous year.

The passenger load factor of major scheduled commercial airlines stood at 54-68%, down from 81-94% during the same period of the previous year.

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