booking demand

An IndiGo flight takes off. (IANS photo)

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI — Air passengers gave an overwhelming response to the re-commencement of passenger flight services from May 25, as healthy demand was witnessed for tickets on all metro routes.

Industry insiders pointed out that majority of bookings received were for flights between metro cities, due to the "pent-up demand".

Passenger demand was triggered after major airlines opened domestic bookings on travel portals and their own websites.

In terms of flights, industry leader IndiGo will be operating close to 450 flights, while SpiceJet has opened bookings for 204 daily and 1,431 weekly flights.

On its part, Vistara said that it will be operating a reduced network for the next few weeks, connecting 24 cities across the country.

National carrier Air India which is already occupied with the 'Vande Bharat' repatriation mission has opened bookings for 102 flights.

Furthermore, Alliance Air, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air India, will commence flight operations from May 25 with 57 flight departures per day to different destinations across the country.

The Centre has only allowed limited passenger flight operations of about one-third capacity of the summer schedule to operate between metro cities and other destinations from May 25.

Subsequently, this capacity might be ramped up in the coming period.

"We have sold over Rs 10 crore worth of tickets on within the last 24 hours of opening of bookings for May schedule, where in all airlines have opened booking except GoAir," Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-Founder of EaseMyTrip.com, told IANS.

"Passengers who have been given credit shell's from airlines are also utilizing them - a majority of tickets which are getting sold are priced mid level from upper bracket and lower bracket cap by the government."

On May 22, the Centre said the domestic passenger flight services will be offered in a fixed minimum and maximum fare structure for different routes.

Detailing the plans for recommencement of flight services, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri May 22 said the step to fix the fare bands has been taken under the special prevailing circumstances that have come about due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the new fare structure, air routes have been divided into seven sections based on travel time. Each such section has its minimum and maximum fare.

As per the details, the seven price bands are based on the duration of the flights with 'A' being the shortest and 'G' being the longest. The price bands have been instituted for three months, from May 25 to August 24.

"We have seen a surge in flight demand and a 10x growth in searches post flight bookings opening up," said Aloke Bajpai, Co-Founder and CEO, ixigo.

"Initial demand is mostly travelers going to their hometowns or travelling for essential reasons."

India has allowed airlines to recommence domestic passenger flight operation s in a calibrated manner from May 25.

Passenger air services were suspended for both scheduled domestic and international flights since March 25, due to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to Dhruv Shringi, Co-Founder and CEO, Yatra.com: "We have received an overwhelming response on nearly all metro routes due to the pent-up demand by those who want to go back to their home."

"Bookings today are trending at almost 40 per cent of pre-Covid levels. With the government capping air fares, we anticipate the booking to increase further in the near future."

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