Although the skies opened up for international flights from Sunday after a hiatus of around two years, the high air fares have dampened the spirit of stakeholders in the travel and hospitality industry.
According to experts, people have been hoping to relax, reconnect and explore new destinations this summer. But the high fares have caused a sense of disappointment. Otherwise this would have been a grand season for the hospitality sector.
The fare to the U.S. from Kochi that was between ₹50,000 and ₹60,000 per person before the pandemic is now priced above ₹1 lakh. So is the case with the ticket fares from the State to most of the European, West Asian and Far East Asian destinations.
Nikhina Ajay, sales manager, Soman’s Leisure Tours India Pvt Ltd, told The Hindu, “we had been offering a summer holiday package to Europe at ₹1.5 lakh per person before the pandemic. Now, we have hiked it to ₹2.10 lakh owing to the rise in air fares. A four-member family which could go for a vacation by spending around ₹6-7 lakh earlier has to shell out around ₹10 lakh now,” said Ms. Ajay.
Similarly, a Russian or Singapore trip will now cost around ₹1 lakh for a holidayer against the ₹70,000 charged earlier. So is the case with other routes as well. Air travel between Kerala and the West Asian cities has been burning a hole in the pockets of expats. An air ticket to Dubai from Kochi will cost between ₹25,000 and ₹40,000.
Babu Paul of Speedwing Tours, Kochi, said the U.S. was yet to issue tourist visas despite the COVID-19 cases on the wane. The U.K. had been taking around 45-55 days to process tourist visas compared to the 15 days in the pre-COVID era, he said.
“While some of the travel barriers are yet to be lifted in some European cities, the exorbitant price of jet fuel coupled with air space restrictions due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine have contributed to the high air fares,” said Mr. Paul.
Despite the high fares, flights have been having a significant number of passengers. “This bodes well for the sector,” said Thomas Mathayi, director of Riya Travels.
Fare being demand-driven, the high ticket rate also indicated that there was a high demand for tickets, said an officer attached to Air India.