Monday, February 15, 2021

Domestic air fare hike to hit Kerala

Thiruvananthapuam: As the economy of Kerala is limping back to normalcy after the severe impact of Covid-19, the Union government has decided to allow the airlines to charge 10-30 per cent more fare for domestic travel with immediate effect. This is expected to have a direct bearing on the air travel to and from the state as Kerala tourism has pinned all its hopes on domestic tourism this year.

With the order, the airline companies can charge up to 30 per cent more on the base fare cap announced by the government soon after the relaunch of the domestic operations in the country on May 25. The busiest domestic routes from Kerala are Kochi-Bengaluru (65 minutes), Kochi-Chennai (55 minutes), Kochi-Mumbai (100 minutes) and Kochi-Delhi (180 minutes). Kerala has also similar traffic to these cities from Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. So, the hike in base fare announced on seven bands on the basis of the approximate duration of flight will hit Kerala hard as it has steady traffic, be it from Delhi to Kerala or Bengaluru to Kerala. 

Babu Paul, head of the Speedwings Travels, Kochi, said, “The compensatory allowance given to the airlines by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will burn a hole in the pockets of passengers. Moreover, the aviation regulator would soon lift the cap on the base fare in various sectors in a phased manner and the decision to charge 10-30 per cent more is the first step towards lifting the price caps,” he said. 

As part of bringing the passengers back to the airlines, the Union government in May last year divided the domestic flyers into seven categories based on their flight durations and fixed a minimum and maximum cap on base fares. This has yielded results as a majority of the domestic airlines have around 85-90 passenger load factor during peak hours on various routes. Now, the next step would be restoring the air fares to pre-Covid era in a phased manner, said a senior officer of Air India.He also said the airlines have been bleeding after the lockdown and the airline companies are eager to cut their losses. 

15/02/21 Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express

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