Home >News >India >Air travel firms report brisk business as skies open up

A record number of flight tickets were sold in a matter of hours after the government announced resumption of domestic flights from Monday, three travel agents said on Friday.

Online travel firm EaseMyTrip sold air tickets worth more than 10 crore since Thursday after the government announcement, co-founder and chief executive Nishant Pitti said.

Graphic: Sarvesh Kumar Sharma/Mint
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Graphic: Sarvesh Kumar Sharma/Mint

The government allowed domestic carriers to resume passenger flights from Monday, including at the coronavirus hotspots of Delhi and Mumbai that host the country’s busiest airports. However, airlines can only use a third of their capacity of the approved summer schedule.

The government also imposed an upper and lower limit on fares to ensure customers do not have to pay exorbitant sums, while the restricted resumption of flights does not become financially not viable for carriers.

However, despite the cap on fares, there was only a marginal difference in the prices of tickets sold after the announcement

Delhi, Patna and Ranchi were the top destinations for flyers while the Delhi-Mumbai route was missing from the list of top sectors, Pitti said.

The top selling sectors included Delhi-Patna, Delhi-Srinagar, Delhi-Imphal, Bangalore-Delhi, Mumbai-Delhi, Pune-Delhi, Delhi-Kolkata, Bangalore-Jaipur, Bangalore-Kolkata, Hyderabad-Delhi, Delhi-Ranchi, Mumbai-Lucknow, Bangalore-Patna, Bangalore-Visakhapatnam, Bangalore-Lucknow, Mumbai-Kolkata, Mumbai-Patna, Kolkata-Agartala, Delhi-Lucknow, and Mumbai-Varanasi, he said.

Some portals had opened bookings for travel from 1 June even before the government’s announcement.

These portals have now also started accepting bookings for travel between 25 May and 31 May.

National carrier Air India resumed bookings from Friday though other domestic airlines had opened bookings for travel after 1 June last week.

Travel website ixigo also said it has seen a spurt in flight bookings. “We have seen a surge in flight demand and a 10x growth in searches post flight bookings opening up," said Aloke Bajpai, co-founder and chief executive of Ixigo.

“There’s a significant increase in bookings due to pent up demand," said Dhruv Shringi, co-founder and chief executive, Yatra Online Pvt. Ltd.

“Demand today is trending at 30-40% of the pre-covid average," Shringi added.

Industry analysts said while there may be a short-term spurt in bookings, with people anxious to get home amid the pandemic, demand may stay muted in the long-run.

“We are currently seeing a surge in demand, but this will likely be followed by an elongated slump because of covid-19 related implications," said a senior official with a budget airline. “That is why typically leaving fares to be determined by market is the best method."

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