Monday, June 21, 2021

Few takers for advance booking of airline tickets even as traffic improves

Mumbai: Domestic air traffic has been growing month-on-month in June, but customers remain wary about booking tickets for travel 30-60 days in advance, say industry executives. Advance purchase discount offers launched by airlines in the last week had limited traction, they added.

AirAsia India launched its discount offer on June 12 for travel from August 1 with fares starting at Rs 1,177. The offer was timed to celebrate the airline’s seventh anniversary in India and promote its new website. Other airlines including IndiGo followed suit with similar offers and matching low fares. Air India’s regional arm Alliance Air launched its three-day offer on Saturday with tickets priced upwards of Rs 999.

The civil aviation ministry had, in May end, reduced cap on domestic airline capacity to 50 per cent from 80 per cent and extended fare caps till July end.

“Daily traffic has doubled from the lows of May. We have started receiving queries for group bookings. Small travel agents too have resumed operations upon easing of Covid-19 restrictions. But average load factors are still around 55 per cent and most of the bookings are for travel within seven days,” said a senior executive of a private airline. Uncertainties over Covid-19 restrictions in various states and hassles in securing refunds for cancelled flights are also possible reasons for customer wariness to book advance tickets, another executive reasoned.

A total of 122,058 passengers flew in 1,180 flights on Sunday, the highest so far in June. The number of daily departures also crossed the 1,000 mark on June 11 after a gap of over a month indicating signs of recovery.

“Due to relaxation of restrictions by several states and normalization of activities people are traveling back to metros like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru from their hometowns in tier II and III cities. Bookings from cities like Varanasi, Darbhanga, Patna, Gorakhpur to metros have seen a jump of 45-50 per cent in the last two weeks,” said Manan Bajoria, associate vice president (growth and marketing), ixigo.

21/06/21 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

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