Saturday, December 1

Airfares to shoot through the sky from Monday

MUMBAI: This time it could hurt. From Monday, domestic airlines are poised to push through their steepest increase in fuel surcharge this year — the seventh in the past one year. The price of a one-way ticket will go up by Rs 300 to Rs Rs 1,650. And now, airline CEOs, like Jet Airways’ Wolfgang Prock-Schaeur, fear that they may have reached the tipping point. “Fares at the current level may start impacting passenger growth,” he said. At 35%, air traffic growth was the highest in the world last year. But now, experts reckon that leisure and impulse travellers could end up curtailing air travel. On the other hand, business travellers, who make up about 70% of the domestic passengers, tend to be unaffected by price hikes. The increase in surcharge follows a 12% increase in aviation fuel prices by the oil companies. The four companies — Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Reliance Industries — will hike fuel prices at airports across the country from Friday midnight. Currently, aviation fuel in India costs about 70% more than in Singapore or Dubai, said Mr Prock-Schaeur. So far, Jet and Kingfisher Airlines have declared that they will implement the hike from Monday. Other airlines are likely to follow suit. Psychologically, the impact is likely to be felt more by short-haul passengers, who might end up paying a surcharge higher than the basic fare. “These passengers may now return to the railways,” said industry experts. A second AC ticket on the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani is priced at about Rs 2,005 while average fare on any low-cost airline during off-peak hours on the same route is about Rs 3,600. International air travel is also set to get costlier. Jet Airways has hiked fares by $30 on a one-way ticket to the US, and by $25 on the London sector. If you’re flying to the US on Singapore Airlines, the fares (thanks to the surcharge) have already gone up by $123.


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