CHANDIGARH: The air passenger traffic from Punjab has been severely hit after Pakistan closed its airspace for both India and international carriers following the IAF strike in Balakot in February this year. The closure that has entered its fourth month has resulted in ticket prices shooting up by 25 per cent.
Thanks to the clampdown, both the foreign and Indian carriers have been forced to take expensive detours, adding to the layover time for passengers.
The ban, which has now been extended till June 15, has impacted hundreds of commercial and cargo flights.
Anil Anand, Chairman of Travel Agent Association of India (Chandigarh Chapter), says, "The closed airspace by Pakistan which has been in effect since the last week of February has led to Air Canada cancelling its flights to India as the passenger traffic has taken a hit. Even British Airways had to change its route to fly down to Delhi. As a result, flights from London are taking two more hours. There are instances when some of these passengers who are supposed to catch further connecting flights to the US or Canada end up missing them. They are left to fend for themselves as the airlines are not helping them with accommodation."
The fares too have skyrocketed after Jet Airways stopped its operations due to bankruptcy.
An economy-class ticket from Delhi to the US, Canada or UK now costs more than Rs 1.10 lakh each. It was around Rs 70,000 earlier.
Only NRIs along with those who have booked their tickets in advance or have to travel on an emergency are now buying tickets.
The price for the economy-class ticket for the Delhi-London flight has been impacted by another factor - the ongoing cricket World Cup. A ticket, which was priced at Rs 45,000 earlier, now is being sold at above Rs 64,000.