“A one-way ticket to Srinagar was almost Rs20,000 per passenger. The same for Dubai was about Rs13,000 per person. For once, we thought why Srinagar and why not Dubai?” the working professional said.
High demand and less supply, mainly due to the suspension of GoFirst’s operations, has resulted in a sharp rise in domestic airfares from Pune to several places. The situation is such that domestic airfares are much higher than fares for some international destinations, prompting murmurs to cap the domestic airfares. The representative of a travel company sought immediate government interference to check the trend.
“If an airline is not operating, why its slots can’t be transferred to other carriers? GoFirst had a big presence with prime slots in different sectors, particularly Jammu and Kashmir. People love to go there in peak summer, but most of them cannot afford to spend Rs20,000 one-way just to travel,” the travel firm’s representative said.
Nilesh Bhansali, a travel firm owner and the director of Travel Agents Association of Pune, agreed. “The government has said airfares cannot be capped as it will be bad for the airlines’ health. But what about the health of travellers? A system can be in place wherein all GoFirst slots can be used by other airlines until it resumes operations,” he said.
Representative of yet another travel company said despite international airfares being less on some sectors than domestic, travelling was not easy. “There are visa and weather issues. People who have made up their mind to travel to Leh for instance, will suddenly not go to Bangkok,” he said.
Travellers echoed him. “How can we suddenly decide to travel international when our plan is to go to a domestic location? International trips need a lot of planning and preparations in advance,” businessman Kalind Parikh said.
Travellers and agents argued that there was a need to cap airfares. “It should be re-introduced immediately, for some time at least. In each festive season also, the cap should be introduced,” Santosh Gupta, the owner of a travel firm, said.