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Business class, five-stars back as Indians splurge after COVID-19

“People are living their lives and splurging on travel,” Prashant Pitti, a co-founder of EaseMyTrip, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Monday. “It’s a shift which is happening for good, for long-term.”

March 28, 2022 / 01:24 PM IST
Representative image (REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)

Representative image (REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)

Indians are holidaying lavishly now, spending more on five-star hotels and booking business-class seats as the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic that restricted travel for two years, according to the South Asian nation’s second-biggest online travel agency.

“People are living their lives and splurging on travel,” Prashant Pitti, a co-founder of EaseMyTrip, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Monday. “It’s a shift which is happening for good, for long-term.”

More and more Indians are taking to the skies as travel curbs ease and the country opens up international travel, with pent-demand driving travel needs for millions stuck at home. India, the world’s fastest-growing major aviation market before the pandemic, expects local traffic to exceed pre-pandemic levels of 415,000 daily fliers within a year. Indian airlines are also adding capacity to capture the revival in demand as international flights resumed from Sunday.

Bookings for business class seats on flights and five-star hotels have already doubled compared to pre-pandemic numbers, Pitti said. Indians are now planning holidays of 4.7 days on average, compared with 3.2 days before Covid, he said. Operated by Easy Trip Planners Ltd., EaseMyTrip offers online bookings for flights, trains, hotels, buses and cabs.

EaseMyTrip, which sold shares to the public last year, will continue to grow profitably, Pitti said. The company’s net income likely surpassed 9 billion rupees ($118 million) for the year ending March 31, jumping from 6.1 billion rupees ($80 million) previous year, he said.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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While airfares have jumped “quite dramatically” in the last few weeks as carriers tried to offset a rise in oil prices, the increase will be short-lived, said Pitti.

“India is looking great, in lines to recover very rapidly from the onslaught which we all have been through in the last two years,” he said. “The pent-up demand won’t shorten for next couple of years.”



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Bloomberg
first published: Mar 28, 2022 01:24 pm
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