Airfares on five of the dozen odd popular routes have witnessed a decline ahead of the festive season, an indicator of sluggish demand due to slowdown in the economy.
The poor demand for air travel in the middle of the festive season has prompted airlines to make attractive offers to passengers, a rarity around festivals such as Deepavali which witnesses high tourist volumes.
According to data shared by Yatra.com, the average cost of ticket for a Delhi-Chennai flight was Rs 3,071 for bookings made 15 days prior to Diwali as against Rs 5,571 for a similar period last year.
A Mumbai-Bengaluru flight ticket cost Rs 3,899 as against Rs 4233 last year, while a Delhi-Hyderabad plane ticket cost Rs 3,799 as against Rs 3,924 last year.
An airline official admitted that the aviation sector is not witnessing growth as witnessed in the statistics released by the civil aviation regulator from time to time. He attributed the sluggish demand for air travel to the slowdown in the economy.
However, certain routes such as Bengaluru-Mumbai saw increase in prices compared with the festive season last year. A Bengaluru-Mumbai air ticket, booked 15 days before Diwali last year cost Rs 2,707, while this year the price was Rs 4,003.
But, a Hyderabad-Delhi air ticket saw it fare zoom from Rs 2,735 last year to Rs 7,499 this year.
According to statistics released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), domestic air traffic witnessed a decline for the fourth consecutive month in September.
Domestic airlines carried 11.53 million passengers in September, as against 11.79 passengers in August this year, the DGCA data showed. In July, the airlines had ferried 11.90 million passengers.
“15 days prior to Diwali, airfares have witnessed an average hike of 30% on below routes when compared to last year. The hike can be attributed to increased passenger traffic during festive season, with people travelling with friends and families or visiting hometowns,” Sharat Dhall, Chief Operating Officer (B2C), Yatra.com told DH.
“However, to attract more passenger, we recently saw airlines announcing sales which led to a decrease in the fares on certain routes such as Mumbai-Bangalore, Delhi-Hyderabad, Delhi-Pune, Chennai-Delhi. However, going by the prevailing last minute fare rise trends, we could expect a rise in fares as we get closer to the booking dates,” he said.