Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Kingfisher crisis affects holidayers as air fares soar

CHENNAI: The crisis in Kingfisher Airlines has hit holidayers this festive season. A getaway to Port Blair or Colombo is expected to burn a hole in the pockets of passengers as air fares have soared for travel for Diwali, Christmas-New Year and Pongal.

Fares have increased by 20-25% for one-way travel to these spots for the next three months. A Chennai-Port Blair one-way ticket ranges between 11,700 and 22,000 on the eve of Diwali and 14,000 to 22,000 on the eve of Christmas. Return fares have already crossed the 11,000 mark for travel in January.

Airline sources attribute the hike to the increased demand for seats and the absence of Kingfisher Airlines on several routes.

"As Kingfisher flights are grounded, the number of seats that would have been available to different destinations, including Port Blair and Colombo, has come down. There is a 14% reduction in overall capacity in the coming three months. If Kingfisher is not revived, fares will go up further," said a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official.

Go Air and Spicejet have started flying to Port Blair after Kingfisher ran into rough weather but this has not helped much because demand for seats has increased when compared to last year. The presence of Kingfisher services may have stabilized fares.

Fares to domestic destinations like Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities have already soared.

"Holiday travel has become expensive this season when compared to last year. Fares would have been much cheaper and more seats would have been available if Kingfisher was operating," said Prema Radhakrishnan of Emerald Airways.

Air fares ranged from 8,400 to 9,500 for Port Blair, 4,200 to 8,900 for Colombo, 5,500 to 6,200 for Mumbai, 6,500 to 7,500 and 3,300 for Bangalore in November and December last year. The ninimum fare for Delhi has touched 8,000 this year.

"Flying will remain expensive unless airlines announce more frequencies for the winter schedule in the coming months," said an airport official. Hike in domestic air fares has also hit holiday packages because air fares form more than 30% of the total package cost.

"The new trend is to announce holiday packages without air fare because economy fares have shot up several fold, making domestic destinations expensive. An economy ticket on the Delhi-Goa route now costs 11,000 on low cost carriers. Earlier it was 5,000. Domestic and foreign tourists will have to spend more for holidays in popular tourist destinations this season," said M K Ajith Kumar of Asia Pacific Tours.

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