Festivals over, the air travel has become economical.
Fares have dropped with the slide in the demand for air tickets in the second half of January. Seats can now be booked on several routes on the day of travel.
The flight ticket prices went north with the onset of festive season in October with Durga Puja. The mad rush for expensive tickets continued during Diwali and Chhath. The scenario was no different in Christmas and on the first few days in the new year.
The airfares started to dip after Makar Sankranti. Airlines and travel agents attributed it to reduced passenger flow. (See graphic)
The fare on the Patna-New Delhi route has now come down from Rs 10,000-15,000 to Rs 5,000-6,000. Similarly, the fare on the Patna-Mumbai route has dropped from Rs 14,000-20,000 to Rs 7,000-8,000.
A senior executive of a private airline at the city airport said: “The rush in air travel starts in October and continues till the first fortnight of January. The rush of passengers, both inbound and outbound, is very high in the peak season. The passenger load has now come down by around 25 per cent. As airfares are determined on the basis of the number of passengers and the availability of seats, they are now witnessing a downward trend.”
An executive of another private airline said: “Most airlines emphasise on economy class these days and the booking of tickets in this class starts four to five months in advance. The fare increases with the booking of tickets. For instance, on Patna-New Delhi route, tickets for the first 50 seats can be purchased for around Rs 2,600. The price surges to around Rs 4,500 in the range of 50 to 100 seats. The same ticket would be in the range of Rs 8,000-12,000 and above for the remaining 20 seats. In an off- season, many seats remain vacant till the date of travel. So, the prices of tickets do not surge much in off-peak seasons.”
Travel agents in the city echoed the employees of the private airlines. “This time of the year is considered as off-season. Most people have returned from vacations. Students’ movement is also restricted because of exams in March and April. All these factors have pulled down the number of air travellers and subsequently the air fares,” said Raman Jha, the manager of Super Travels.
“Inbound international tourists’ flow to Buddhist pilgrimage spots in the state dips with the departure of winter. The drop in passenger load from January brings down the airfares. The downward trend will continue till the onset of summer,” said Shailesh Kumar, the chief executive of the city-based Nalanda Travels.
Narendra Kumar, director, Windsor Hotel, said: “The airlines enjoy the monopoly during the festive season and we have to pay astronomically high fares. The airlines should have a mechanism for balancing airfares in different seasons. For instance, the number of flights can be increased on different routes to avert acute crisis of seats during the peak season.”