Monday, December 06, 2021

Omicron threat sparks frenzy in Kerala, leads to spike in outbound air traffic

Thiruvananthapuram:  Panicked by the emergence of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, non-resident Keralites are making a beeline for the airports to catch flights to their workplaces in West Asian countries.

Despite this, passenger movement will not see a major drop provided international borders stay open, say tourism and travel industry stakeholders.

Normally, inbound traffic is higher during December while outbound traffic picks up after the Christmas-New Year vacations.

However, the emergence of Omicron has reversed things, causing a steady movement of passengers flying from Kerala to west Asia, while inbound traffic remains lower in comparison.

“Expats and travellers who came to Kerala for various purposes are cutting short their stay and returning to their job destinations or homes outside the country, fearing suspension of flights,” said Babu Paul, head of the Speedwing Tours. 

Air ticket fares between Kerala and various west Asian countries indicate this too.

While the average ticket fare in budget airlines from Kochi to Abu Dhabi on Monday is between Rs 17,702 and Rs 20,188, tickets from Abu Dhabi to Kochi cost between Rs 8,678 and Rs 9,604.

Kochi to Dubai flight tickets on Monday cost between Rs 14,949 and Rs 24,938 on an average, while the other way round cost only Rs 8,678 to Rs 12,881.

However, stakeholders in the travel industry are hopeful that traffic would return to normal after this initial frenzy if flights are not suspended like in the past. Japan’s decision a few days ago to revoke the suspension of flights after facing criticism has also instilled hope in them.

06/12/21 Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express

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