Soaring air fares jolt passengers

MUSCAT, Aug 25 – For expatriates from the south Indian state of Kerala, it has been a double whammy. Already reeling under torrential rains and floods that have ravaged their homes and properties, they are now feeling the pinch of high air fares. Passengers heading to Kerala are feeling the pinch of exorbitant fares as one of the state’s international gateways, Kochi airport, has been closed as it was inundated. Expatriates who have already reached Kerala before the deluge are finding it difficult to come back as fares have almost doubled. “I had to pay nearly double the price on Kozhikode-Muscat route after the Kochi airport was closed,” said Riju, a sales executive with a public utility company in Muscat.
Expatriate families travelled to Kerala after the Indian schools closed for the vacation. For their return journey, they are coughing up huge sums.
“I booked a ticket to Kochi last week, but had to postpone it twice and then cancel it because of the non-availability of seats to other airports,” S Mohammed, a media person in Muscat, said.
Some airlines have waived additional charges in the wake of uncertainty posed by floods. Air India Express, for instance, has freed passengers from paying additional charges for rerouting and postponement.
“We have waived all charges arising out of cancellation/ rerouting/postponement on tickets sold on Kochi route,” Mahesh Chaudhary, Country Manager of Air India Express, told the Observer. Meanwhile, a circular from the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) says the airport will reopen on August 29.
Expats who went on a long Eid holiday are also feeling the pinch. No seats were available on Oman Air on the Kerala route until Saturday. From Sunday until September 2, the fare was a whopping RO 210. For August 29, it was RO 263.
Air India Express, a budget carrier, was charging RO 102, but tickets were not available on Saturday and Sunday. For travel between August 28 and September 2, passengers need to pay RO 87. On the other hand, a trip from Trivandrum, the airport used by those bound for Kochi, will have to pay anything between RO 104 and RO 176.

KABEER YOUSUF