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Flight bookings open, guess which are the busiest routes?

Flights to non-metros see the heaviest traffic and higher fares

May 22, 2020 / 10:19 PM IST

Delhi-Patna, Delhi-Srinagar and Delhi-Imphal.

Just a few weeks ago, these air routes hardly caused a stir but as bookings opened for flights to resume from May 25, they top the demand charts, in that order.

"It reflects the pent-up demand among customers. Many of them were stuck in cities before the lockdown was announced," said a senior executive from the sector.

Like all other things around us, the coronavirus outbreak seems to have upended demand for flights as well.

Delhi-Mumbai, the busiest route in the country, was only the fifth most-sought after, initial trends on EaseMyTrip.com, the online travel agency, showed. Bengaluru-Delhi was the fourth.

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Mumbai and Delhi are also among the worst-hit cities. India’s financial capital now has 25, 317 confirmed cases of coronavirus while the national capital has reported at least 11, 659 infections.

As the country hunkered down from March 25 to curb the rampaging virus, flights, too, were suspended. The fourth phase of the lockdown ends on May 31 but the government has decided to reopen the skies from May 25.

Traffic is the heaviest for Delhi. The Indian capital is the destination or origin of eight of the 10 busiest routes. Also, traffic between metros is as heavy but is heavier between metros and non-metros.

Most of the airlines opened their booking counters soon after Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri's media briefing on May 21, where he shared details of the schedule, sectors and fares.

Operations will resume with a third of the summer schedule. The government has also capped the fares, which range from Rs 2,000 to Rs 18,600, depending on the flying time. Fares on Delhi-Mumbai route range from Rs 3,500 to Rs 10,000.

 The fares

Trends on fares are in sync with the traffic.

A Delhi-Patna one-way ticket for May 25 was selling at Rs 9,404 on IndiGo' website. A Delhi-Mumbai ticket was priced at Rs 7,040.

Prices were a shade higher on SpiceJet's website. The Delhi-Patna fare was Rs 9,718 and Delhi-Mumbai Rs 7,356.

EaseMyTrip.com CEO Nishant Pitti said the initial demand was “very good”.

The industry, however, will be closely watching the trends for a few days later, once customers start booking for further dates.

The aviation industry is among the worst hit as restrictions on the movement of people, in India and abroad, have hit travel plans.
Prince Mathews Thomas heads the corporate bureau of Moneycontrol. He has been covering the business world for 16 years, having worked in The Hindu Business Line, Forbes India, Dow Jones Newswires, The Economic Times, Business Standard and The Week. A Chevening scholar, Prince has also authored The Consolidators, a book on second generation entrepreneurs.
first published: May 22, 2020 11:37 am
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