Mumbai-Delhi airfare soars to Rs 35,000 more than Dubai or Bangkok fare

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NEW DELHI: If you are planning to fly from Delhi to Mumbai at short notice, get ready to shell out more than you would for a return ticket to, say, Dubai or Bangkok. Passengers buying tickets on the date of travel or a day or two earlier on this sector in the past few days have seen one-way fares on full service carriers skyrocket to Rs 16,000-20,000 in economy, and Rs 20,000-35,000 for business class!


While airfares across the domestic network are 15-25% higher this peak travel season, the Delhi-Mumbai sector has seen a 200-300% jump thanks to a number of factors plaguing the two airports that together account for almost 70% of all domestic flights.


Low-cost carriers are only marginally cheaper with spot or day before travel date fares (one way) ranging from Rs 13,000-17,000; some budget players, however, are charging even up to Rs 22,000. Only tickets being bought at least three to four days before travel date on this sector begin at a slightly more normal rate of Rs 6,000, but with only a few seats available, even that gets sold out fast.


The main runway in Mumbai is closed for eight hours a day from Monday to Saturday, leading to a massive drop in capacity. With domestic travel growing in double digits post-slowdown, airlines wanted 573 daily slots from the airport there but got only 490. The peak demand season saw supply getting reduced, leading to huge fare hikes, particularly on the super-busy Delhi-Mumbai route.


Delhi is facing huge schedule uncertainties and baggage delays at IGI Airport’s new T3 from where Air India, Jet and Kingfisher now operate. Catching a flight from T3 means a walk of 1-1.5km, something that old passengers and family travellers are keen to avoid, leading to a rush for other airlines.


"There’s a sudden rush for IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir that operate from 1D (that’s on IGI’s domestic side), which is also closer to the city. Seats are simply not available on sectors like Delhi-Mumbai and we keep seeing economy fares crossing Rs 20,000 even in the LCCs," said Anil Kalsi, head of Travel Agent Federation of India.


Ankur Bhatia, head of online ticket sale technology provider Bird Group, says there are other factors at play. "Due to factors like Mumbai runway closure and airlines having substantial number of planes grounded," he said.


An airline CEO said that while fares routinely rise in peak season due to demand-supply equation, Delhi-Mumbai was witnessing an unprecedented situation. "We have never seen such a demand but there are no slots available in Mumbai to add flights," he said

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