Friday, September 25, 2020

London flight biz class going full but empty economy seats a worry

Kolkata: Even as poor loads continue to plague the Air India London-Kolkata flights that were introduced last week, the high occupancy in the business class has surpassed the airline’s expectations.

In all three flights that have operated so far, 90% business-class seats that sell for Rs 92,000-Rs 1,60,000 have been occupied. In contrast, in the economy class, where the seats are on offer for as low as Rs 27,000, the occupancy has been less than 30%. The Dreamliner flight that departed on Thursday morning had only 40 economy-class passengers on board with 189 seats vacant. In the business class, 15 of the 16 seats were occupied.

The high business-class occupancy has confounded many in the travel trade community as flyers from the city have always been categorised as price-sensitive. Both British Airways (BA) and Lufthansa had cited poor occupancy in business class despite high loads in the economy class for withdrawing the service from Kolkata.

“We were expecting a much higher load in the economy class that forms the bedrock of a flight and much lower occupancy in the business class that offers greater yield. But in this unusual climate, it has been the reverse. That is primarily because two categories of people are travelling — the affluent who have family and friends living abroad; and students who have to join their institutions in the UK or elsewhere in Europe. Though UK is offering visa for all categories, including tourist, leisure travel is yet to take off,” an airline official reasoned.

In the next flight due to depart on Sunday, all business class seats are sold out. The economy class figures too show an improvement with sale of 80 out of 229 seats.

25/09/20 Times of India

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