Flying home before Diwali would be a costly affair.
Almost two months before the festival of lights, the airfare of Patna-bound flights on different sectors has shot up. Compared to regular days, the Diwali weekend ticket prices are almost double on some routes.
On normal days, the airfare on the Delhi-Patna route is around Rs 4,000. But a ticket for November 2, the day before Diwali, would cost at least Rs 7,000.
Similarly, the airfare on the Mumbai-Patna route has soared from around Rs 9,000 on normal days to around Rs 11,000 before Diwali. The price of flight tickets on the Calcutta-Patna route has increased from Rs 3,000-4,000 to Rs 7,000 for November 2.
The non-resident Biharis are worried over the festive rush in flights and the fare pinch. “Last year, no tickets were available on the Mumbai-Patna route a few days before Diwali. Even if tickets are available this year, the prices would be astronomically high,” said Mumbai-based Saurav Kumar, having his roots in SK Nagar.
According to travel and tour operators in the city, airfares have already started going north, much before the festival season, because of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) price hike and fall in the rupee value. Raman Jha, the manager of Super Travels, said: “A sudden surge is being observed in the airfares of late. A ticket on the Patna-Delhi route, which normally comes for around Rs 4,000, is now being booked for around Rs 7,000 after some airlines revised their fares following ATF price hike.”
Oil companies hiked ATF prices by 7 per cent on Tuesday, taking the prices of jet fuel — the single largest component of an airline’s operating cost — to an all-time high. Within 24 hours, SpiceJet and Jet Airways hiked their fares.
Fliers corroborated the rise in airfare. “I booked a ticket yesterday (on Thursday) for going to Delhi on September 10 for Rs 7,000, which is normally around Rs 4,000. Things would worsen during the festive season. I remember I had booked a ticket on a Delhi-Patna flight for Rs 20,000 in the Diwali weekend last year,” said Narendra Kumar, director, Hotel Windsor, Patna.
A senior executive of a private airline at Patna airport said: “The rush in air travel starts from October and continues till the first fortnight of January. Air traffic, both inbound and outbound, remains very high in the peak season, especially during Diwali. Most people want to celebrate the festival of lights with their families. As the airfares are determined on the basis of correlation between the passenger footfall and availability of seats, the ticket prices soar. A situation would arrive in a couple of weeks when no seats would be available in any of the flights in the Diwali weekend, especially on Delhi-Patna and Mumbai-Patna routes.”
Tour operators claimed that those going on vacations in the festive season would also face the price pinch from now. “Those who would book vacation packages next week would definitely feel the pinch. For instance, the five-night, four-day package for Port Blair during the festive season, which I have sold for Rs 25,000 per person till today (Friday), would be available for not less than Rs 37,000-38,000 from the next week,” said Shailesh Kumar, the chief executive of city-based Nalanda Travels.
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