Fares on popular international routes from India have fallen, by as much as 66 percent, as fliers cancel and reschedule travel plans due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The steepest fall is on short and medium haul routes, including those to Singapore and Dubai.
The fall could spell trouble for airlines, including IndiGo and SpiceJet, especially as the industry gets into the peak summer vacation travel.
One-way fare between Mumbai and Singapore has fallen by 66 percent in March, compared to year-ago levels, shows a comparison done by travel app ixigo. The fall is less dramatic in a month-to-month comparison, but still significant at 45 percent.
Track this blog for live updates on coronavirus
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Mumbai fliers can now book a ticket to Singapore for Rs 8,727, compared to Rs 26,000 in March last year, and Rs 16,000 in February this year.
Second most impacted route is the Delhi-Dubai sector, with fares down 53 percent, year-on-year; and 41 percent month-on-month.
The drop in Bengaluru-Dubai route is more tempered, at 29 percent year-on-year, and 37 percent month-on-month.
"While we have seen a 30-35 percent drop in airfares across international routes post the virus outbreak," said Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-founder, ixigo.
London, perhaps the most popular destination, has also seen fares dropping. Delhi-London fares have fallen by 43 percent year-on-year. The fares is March were 20 percent cheaper than in February.
Other destinations that have seen a fall in fares, include Rome and Madrid.
Interestingly, one sector has been an increase, though slight, in fares. Flights from Mumbai to Melbourne, are 2 percent pricier than a month ago, at Rs 34,542. However, the fare is still 13 percent lower from the levels a year ago.
While both Air India and IndiGo, had cancelled flights to China, all the airlines have reduced operations in other virus-affected destinations, including Singapore and Bangkok.
Vistara, for instance, has cancelled 34 flights to Singapore, from Mumbai and Delhi. It has also reduced services to Bangkok.
Nearly 120 people have confirmed to have the infection in Singapore. Two new cases were reported on March 4. At the same time, reports say that 79 have recovered too.
In the Middle-East, about 2,500 cases have been confirmed, and 77 have died of the virus. Saudi Arabia had registered its first case on March 2. In the UAE, including Dubai, 27 people have been infected till now.
Traffic from India to the region will be further impacted after Saudi Arabia said it has suspended religious tours. The country is the second biggest destination for Indians, after the UAE.
ixigo has offered full refund, no-questions asked policy for all flight bookings to China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Spain, Singapore, South Korea & Japan. The policy is applicable on both one-way and return bookings for travel dates up to 31st March 2020.