Kochi: Overseas flight services from India are slowly back in routine mode. But riding piggyback on the surging demand for tickets after a long ban on international flights owing to COVID-19, the airlines are fleecing travellers bound, especially for the West and the Middle East.
Airfares have been hiked seven to eight times by almost all the airlines from last week's rates, without offering any convincing justification. The students and professionals, who are in a hurry to reach their overseas destinations, are hit hard by the new development.
Blame it on dynamic pricing
The airlines are reportedly exploiting the high demand for tickets by introducing the dynamic pricing system.
Last Saturday, the number of overseas travellers leaving the Kochi International Airport crossed 10,000. Last Sunday, the number crossed 12,000. The number was just 1,200-1,300 before that.
As the number of passengers shot up eight or nine times the airlines put in force the dynamic pricing system. As per the new pricing, a one-way ticket to the US would cost Rs. 2.5 to 3 lakh, whereas to the Gulf, it would be Rs.1 lakh. The rates were Rs.42,000 and Rs.12,000 respectively two weeks ago.
The flight ticket rate for Delhi-London sector has gone up to a whopping Rs 3.95 lakh.Airline companies are even forcing the travellers, who had booked the tickets in advance, to cancel their tickets, citing the likely cancellation of the schedule. Once cancelled, you will have to shell out an amount eight or nine times higher to book a ticket in the rescheduled flight.
It is now time for students to report for admissions and classes in the US, Europe and the Gulf region. Foreign universities have now reopened. Even though the countries like the UAE in the Gulf sector have put stringent Covid-related rules for return of NRIs, the demand is still too high for air tickets.
London tickets sell fast
Three airlines, Visthara, Air India and British Airways, are together operating 12 flights to London per week. But still, the demand from the passengers cannot be met fully. The booking for the London flight set to depart from Kochi on August 18 is also going on in full swing.
After the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, around 16 lakh Keralites returned home from foreign countries. Of this, almost 12.5 people are packing their bags again to go back to their workplaces abroad. But the high cost for overseas tickets plays spoilsport.
DGCA begins probe
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has begun a probe into complaints regarding excessive pricing for tickets by various airlines.
Airlines have been asked by the DGCA to submit the list of fares which they charge from passengers.