Airfares are skyrocketing and here to stay, not going down anytime soon, travel experts say

Don’t expect cheap airfare to return anytime soon, say travel experts | Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Most airlines are also deploying less capacity as they do not have the required number of aircraft. Planes that haven’t been used during the lockdown, returned leases and delayed deliveries of new planes prevent them from adding more flights when more people want to fly.

The global airline scenario has been different since the start of the pandemic, with many airlines going bankrupt or largely reducing operations as Covid-19 travel restrictions took their toll. Andrew Watterson, chief operating officer of Southwest Airlines, told the WSJ: “It’s unusual. You have demand that quickly exceeds supply like this. I think we have a few years where demand and supply are maybe not as aligned as they were before the pandemic,” he said.

Passengers want government intervention

Back in India, fares increased due to demand. A recent survey by social media community platform LocalCircles indicated that two in three airmen want the government to reinstate an upper and lower limit on airfares, as has been the case for most of the pandemic. The survey received over 22,000 responses from consumers located in 297 districts

“Booking in advance does not produce advantageous rates. Two things have happened, the airlines have not deployed their full capacity and two, there is good pent-up demand. So it is the combination of the two that has made the rates what they are,” said Ajay Prakash, CEO of Nomad Travels and Chairman of the Travel Agents Federation of India. Prakash says prolonged visa delays with American and European travelers and skyrocketing ticket prices have been a disappointment for tourists this year.

As travel stabilizes after Covid, longer-term structural shortages in the system are exposed, which travel experts say will take years to resolve.

For example, for the weekend of November 12-14, fares to Kolkata from Mumbai are between 19,000 and 21,000 and to Goa between 5,000 and 13,000. And now experts are warning that on the approach Christmas holidays, the rates will only increase. Refer to the table below to check rates to other cities.

Online travel agent Cleartrip has recorded an increase of around 6% in airfares through September this year.

Amit Shirodkar who wanted to take a November vacation in the northeast with his family, skipped the idea and went to Mahableshwar instead. “There were four of us and the price of tickets to Sikkim was 80,000, which was absurd. These are the prices for Bangkok or Dubai. And we were looking at April rates, not last minute,” says the advertising manager. The Shirodkar family took a road trip to Mahableshwar instead.

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