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Holiday bookings' rush: No respite in airfares

Last updated on: August 28, 2012 10:03 IST

Holiday bookings' rush: No respite in airfares

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Ruchika Chitravanshi in New Delhi

With soaring airfares and anticipation they might rise further in the coming months, people have already started making holiday bookings for Christmas and New Year, as Indian travellers are in no mood to burn their pockets further this year.

"Lack of competition in the space has kept airfares at high levels. In the coming months, there are no signs of any drop in prices," said Sabina Chopra, co-founder, Yatra.com, explaining why travellers are booking much in advance.

October to December is considered to be the peak season for both inbound and outbound travel.

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Photographs: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

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And, typically, Christmas and New Year bookings kick off around October.

With a trend defying rise in airfares, even tour operators are not sure how much more the fares could rise now, impacting the overall package costs.

The April to June quarter this year saw a 31 per cent rise in average airfares compared to the corresponding period last year.

Traditionally, fares have seen a drop during this period.

Cleartrip data reveal last year from the second to the third quarter, there was a 12 per cent increase in average fares.

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Photographs: Reuters
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"Q2 usually sees a price drop, contrary to what has actually happened this year.

The market is not in a position to sustain a further hike at this stage since demand is already under pressure," said Noel Swain, executive vice-president (supplier relations), Cleartrip.

The best hope of travel companies this festive season is that demand remains the same as last year, if not increases.

Industry experts point out if the current trends are anything to go by, the upcoming festive season is likely to see a further rise in fares.

The shortage in air capacity with a reduction in Kingfisher and Air India flights has led to a much larger market share for IndiGo and Jet Airways.

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"Most travellers are heading to far-east destinations like Thailand, Mauritius and Malaysia.

"In domestic travel space, due to high airfares, we are getting enquiries for short-haul destinations which one can drive up to instead of taking a flight to," said Arjun Sharma, managing director, Le Passage to India.

The only saving grace is the fact that hotel prices have not seen any significant rise due to a lower demand.

"Customers are finding it better to book a package than just a flight, since we can club together an affordable deal," Chopra added.



Image: Kerala.
Photographs: Courtesy, Kerala Tourism

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