The flight ticket prices have reached astronomical heights with the arrival of the festive season.
Tour operators in the city said the airfare on different routes is expected to shoot up twice to thrice of the normal price during the festive season. The normal ticket price of Rs 6,000 on Patna-New Delhi route can go up to Rs 15,000 and that on Patna-Mumbai route can soar from Rs 6,000 to Rs 20,000.
“The rush in air travel starts from October and continues till March. Air traffic, both inbound and outbound, is very high in this period. As a result, the rate of tickets soars by Rs 500-1,000 with every booked ticket,” said an executive of a private airline at Patna airport.
He added: “Most airlines’ Patna-bound aircraft fly with almost full capacity because of the rush.”
Travel agents echoed the claim of the airline official. “The rush is mainly on account of festivals and the marriage season. While the festivals continue till November, the marriage season stretches till December. Moreover, the flow of tourists continues till March. The airfares on most routes in eastern region would be at least 20 per cent higher than the previous year,” said Naresh Arora, co-proprietor of city-based Sewak Tour and Travels.
The highest rush at present is on the Patna-Delhi-Varanasi route.
“Seats in all the flights on this route are sold out till November. Tickets are only available from the first week of December. The surge in the airfare is mainly because of the demand-supply gap. The number of people opting for air travel has gone up considerably because a large number of people belonging to the middle-class, who used to travel by train in air-conditioned coaches, now prefer air journey,” said Santosh Kumar Sinha, the owner of Varanasi-based travel agency Holy Voyages.
Frequent fliers are the worst-hit in the festive fall.
“Businessmen like me go on spontaneous business trips, which are not planned in advance. As a result, we end up paying as much as Rs 25,000 even on the Patna-Delhi route. The airlines make hay during the festive season,” said Narendra Kumar, the director of Windsor hotel in Patna.
The suspension of Kingfisher airline’s operations from Patna has exerted tremendous pressure on ticket prices.
“Air India withdrew one of its Delhi-bound flights from Patna recently. As a result, the ticket prices of the existing airlines during the festive season would be higher than the previous years. The fares surge by Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 from the normal price in case one makes booking within a week of travel,” said Sachin Chandra, the Patna president of Builders’ Association of India.