Aviation woes abroad may keep Indians grounded
“Flight fares to the UK have been up by 30%, and the US by 16%," an Air India official said.
An executive at the national carrier Air India said fares for markets such as the UK, US, and the Gulf had started picking up soon after the closure of Jet Airways and have stayed the same since then.
“Flight fares to the UK have been up by 30%, and the US by 16%. Overall, Europe has been up by 12-15%, while the Gulf has been up by 20%. Fares have stayed the same way after picking up after the shutdown,” he said. Even fares to Australia have gone up by up to 10%, he said. An airline executive said all airlines were registering a double digit decline in bookings from India to Hong Kong.
The UN World Tourism Organisation had predicted India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020, up from 20 million by 2017.
“With the flight capacity out of India being very limited after the Jet Airways fiasco, airfares have become very high as a result of which outbound travel is lower this year. Fares are almost 30% higher than what they were at the same time last year. That’s largely bringing in the negative growth. Largely West-bound flights to Europe and the US are registering negative growth. When you book a holiday, a large component is the cost of the flight,” said Kapil Goswamy, MD, Bigbreaks.com.
On Monday, British Airways announced the cancellation of almost all flights globally, including to India, for two days due to a first-of-its-kind strike by its pilots over pay issues. The carrier operates 49 weekly flights to India. While the announcement was just for two days, Sharat Dhall, COO, B2C at Yatra.com, said it was also making future flyers wary.
“Overall, it is not a great situation. Some people would be careful about booking on British Airways until talks fructify in the form of some agreements. People have to book flights on a much shorter notice at substantially higher airfares. If I am travelling on work, then I would look to book on some other carrier.”
Subhash Goyal, a member of the national tourism advisory council, said the UK is one of the biggest outbound markets for India and there are a lot of other carriers which are either directly or indirectly going to London, but the British Airways developments will lead to a rise in airfares.
“Outbound travel will have negative growth. If normally it is growing by 15-20%, then it may grow by 5-6% because of such developments. The same rate of growth will not be there,” he said.
Daniel D'Souza, president and country head, leisure, at SOTC Travel he expects travel plans to be affected if the British Airways issue remains unresolved.
Rajeev Kale, president and country head, holiday, MICE, visa, at Thomas Cook said all his tour operations teams have been briefed to advise and assist all customers with optional flights and suitable alternative sectors.