The uncertainty over when the lockdown and restrictions on air travel will be lifted is hindering airlines to open ticket- booking and it could lead to a massive surge in the airfare especially in the international sector, says airline officials and travel agents, reports TOI.
They said that there would be a heavy rise in the number of passengers once the restrictions are lifted and if the advanced booking is not allowed it would be difficult to manage the demand and price surge. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has already twice forbidden the airlines to open bookings and is yet to come out with a clear intimation about when it could be started.
“Most low-cost airlines, especially those operating in Kerala with the focus on the Gulf region, are already handling the backlogs of rescheduled tickets due to flight cancellations in the wake of lockdown in India and other countries.”
“Once the restrictions are lifted all these passengers, who have the option of rescheduling the travel dates using the same tickets and it will be huge in numbers. Besides them, new bookings will also be there. All these together will create high demand for tickets and could lead to the price surge,” said a top Air India Express official.
The situation will be similar in the domestic sector too, especially for one-way fares to major cities. “Many people are stuck in major cities due to lockdown and all these bookings will be happening post lockdown. In such demand, the base slab for flight tickets will be much higher than normal due to the dynamic pricing. But the price surge will be comparatively lesser than the international sector as it is peak season till June,” said an IndiGo official.
Meanwhile, IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) national President Biji Eapen said that the airlines, while opening advance booking of tickets, should ensure that the passengers will be given a full refund of the tickets if preferred service must be cancelled due to extension of lockdown.
“The option of rescheduling the ticket to another date will not be beneficial for many and airlines should offer a full refund. A petition filed by IAAI regarding this is under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court at present,” he said. (Source: TOI)
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