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Last Updated : Mar 19, 2020 11:19 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Coronavirus pandemic | Spike in fares likely for two days as Indians rush back home

The government has barred international flights from coming to India for a week.

 
 
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The closing of India's borders for a week, starting from March 22, may lead to a spike in fares, albeit for a couple of days, as Indians try to rush back home before the deadline.

The spike could especially be steeper as few airlines continue to fly to India, and those who do, have a skeletal schedule.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, and prior to the travel restrictions, India used to receive about 300-350 international flights a week.

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This is probably the first time since 1912, when India got its first international flight, that the country will see no planes from across the border.

The government, in the latest of a series of travel restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus, on March 19,  announced that no scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft shall be allowed to land in India for a week, starting March 22, 2020.

"Over the last few weeks many airlines had suspended operations to India. With this notification, it will lead to a scramble to get out or into the country and will see a spike in fares and scramble for seats," said Ameya Joshi,  Founder of aviation analysis blog NetworkThoughts.

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Most of the Indian carriers, including Air India, Vistara, IndiGo and SpiceJet, have suspended, partly or fully, their international operations.

It is the same with international airlines too, as a demand slump led to many of them grounding aircraft.

On March 11, fares to India had spiked after the Indian government suspended all tourist visas from March 13 in a sweeping attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus as cases across India continued to rise.

Some flights saw fares jumping nearly 70 percent within hours of the government's announcement.

Industry executives see a similar jump with the new directive. But that will be little respite for airlines who have faced the brunt as the virus spread across the world.

Industry organisation IATA has put the loss, as of now, at $113 billion, with advisory firm CAPA warning that many airlines could go bankrupt by May-end.

Skeletal schedule

Among international airlines, points out  Joshi, United Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates and British Airways are the few who continue to fly to India.

Delta Air Lines had suspended its service between New York and Mumbai from March 17. Similarly, with UAE, Qatar and Kuwait barring travellers, carriers from the region had also reduced operations to Indian destinations.

The latest advisory follows a string of travel restrictions that the government has imposed. Apart from suspending tourists visas till April 15, the government had also barred passengers from Europe and Turkey from entering the country. 

The coronavirus has now resulted in four deaths in India, and 169 have been reported to be infected.

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First Published on Mar 19, 2020 06:52 pm
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