Friday, March 15, 2019

Aircrafts shortage skyrockets fares to 300%


PUNE: Last minute airfares to and from Pune have tripled overnight, with one-way fares to Delhi, Chennai, and Bengaluru crossing the Rs 15,000-mark.

Industry observers have blamed this unusual event on the Indian government banning the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, and a prominent airline grounding nearly 40% of its fleet due to its financial position. This, they said, have sparked a shortage in the number of seats available on operational flights, causing the fares to shoot up.

For instance, the price of a one-way ticket from Pune to Delhi, which cost around Rs 6,000 during the same period last year, now costs a staggering Rs19,000. Last-minute Pune-Bengaluru one-way fares have recorded a seven-fold jump when compared to last year. Fares for Pune-Hyderabad and Pune-Chennai flights too have increased around 300%.

“With an unprecedented number of planes being grounded due to various factors, the reduction in seat capacity has caused an overnight increase in fares. With fares expected to remain high in the near future, we advise travellers to book their tickets 15-30 days in advance,” Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder of ixigo, said.

Nikhil Thakurdas, owner of Odyssey Tours and Travels, said that business travellers were particularly affected. “While one airline has grounded 52 out of 119 aircraft due to internal issues, another had to ground 13 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. Because of this, spot airfares have touched ridiculous levels in sections such as Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, among others,” said Thakurdas.

He added that some business clients were rethinking their meetings, while others were picking red-eye flights, which are cheaper. “However, leisure travellers have not been affected as it is the exam season right now,” he said.

Mehboob Shaikh, treasurer, Travel Agents Association of India and director, Travel Elect Private Limited, said, “After the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after take-off, India banned the aircraft from its airspace, and ordered them grounded with immediate effect. Two carriers in the country had the aircraft on their fleet. With fewer aircraft operational, the demand for seats is high. Other airlines have now jacked up their fares - ticket prices have thus gone up by 300-400% overnight,” said Shaikh.


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