MUMBAI: Day one of opening of domestic air travel bookings from May 25 saw a tepid response from passengers, and tickets for most routes were available throughout the day at reasonable fares. The fares are capped and so there won’t be any exorbitantly high rates for the next three months till August 24. But, it is the second air fare norm put out by the government that works as an indicator of sales.
According to the new rules, airlines have to sell 40% seats at a fare that is lower than the mid-point of the fare band. For instance, on the Mumbai-Delhi route, fare is capped between Rs 3,500 and Rs 10,000 and the mid-point is Rs 6,700 (the fares do not include taxes and fees such as passenger development fee and GST).
On Friday evening, almost 24 hours after bookings for May flights were open (prior to that tickets for travel from June 1 were only available), the cheapest Mumbai-Delhi ticket for travel on May 25 was priced at Rs 6,300 (taxes included) for a 5.30am Air India flight.
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Since passengers have to reach airport at least two hours before departure an early morning flight would have now fallen in favour. One could also buy an 8.40 am AirAsia flight for Rs 7,400, which is a fare just above the mid-range since it includes taxes. The Mumbai-Delhi flights that crossed the Rs 10,000 mark were those that departed between 6.30 am onwards in the morning.
“Had the demand been high, most morning departures would have sold out and late evening departures would have touched the Rs 10,000 mark. If the fares haven’t crossed the mid-point band, it means less than 40% tickets have been sold on that particular flight,” said a travel agent. Travel portals, though, said they had received “an overwhelming response on nearly all metro routes”.
Dhruv Shringi of yatra.com said: “Bookings today are trending at 40% of pre-Covid levels. With the capping of air fares, we hope bookings to increase further.”