Come festival season and airfares skyrocket. It’s no different this time either. Many expatriates are contemplating either cancelling or rescheduling their vacation plans as fares have soared nearly four-fold. With Onam, a harvest festival and an auspicious occasion for Keralites, coinciding with the Eid al Adha holidays that fall in the first week of September, there is an unprecedented rush for air tickets to major south Indian states, according to travel agents.
Many are finding it hard to afford the cost of the air tickets. “I wanted to travel on August 31 to north of Kerala. A round-trip fare, which is usually about RO 70, has become RO 330,” said a public relations executive who travelled home two weeks ago.
“I’ll have to relook at my flying options as the ticket fares are far from affordable,” he said.
A return ticket on Oman Air between Muscat and Kozhikode costs RO 330, and for another closer destination, Kochi, RO 300.
Fares are high even on budget airlines.
For instance, you pay RO 180 for a return trip to Kozhikode on Air India Express.
On Indigo, the fare comes to RO 190.
Airline executives and travel agents say it is all about booking well in advance.
Those who wait until the last minute for the holidays to be announced will end up paying higher rates.
They also denied fares were high. “In the airline industry, seats and fares are always on a first-come-first-served basis,” says Sunil Prabhaker, CEO, Travel City Group.
Rajan Jayaraman, Country Manager, Kuwait Airways, said: “If you want a cheaper rate, it’s advisable to book months in advance. The issue of higher fares is affecting those waiting until the last minute.”
Tickets are available for flights in December, a festive season that sees both Christmas and year-end celebrations.
But fares will get higher as days pass.
“It’s the demand and supply that decides fares. They may be high on some days but not on all days,” says Sharuka Wickramaadittiya, Country Manager, Sri Lankan Airlines.
“Conversely, tickets that are priced high would turn out to be cheaper once the season gets over and we go back to the off-season,” said Wickramaadittiya.