BENGALURU: With the strike by Kerala private inter-state bus operators showing no signs of ending and a reserved train ticket to destinations in that state next to impossible to obtain at short notice, people are looking at air route. With the demand high, air ticket fares have shot up in the last three days forcing many to shelve their travel plans.
A staffer at IndiGo told TNIE that the occupancy on its flights to Kerala has touched 75% this week. “It is definitely higher than the usual occupancy.” A staffer at Air Asia, which runs two flights to Kochi, said flights have been running full. SpiceJet did not respond to calls.
While both the airlines did not specify the ticket fare, Rejikumar, general secretary, Kerala Samajam, Bengaluru branch, said, “From what I have heard from people heading to Kerala, the ticket fare to the two main cities has increased. The starting fare used to be Rs 2,500-plus to Thiruvananthapuram earlier, it now starts at Rs 4,000-plus while the fare to Kochi used to be Rs 1,500-plus and it now starts at Rs 2,500 plus and even touches Rs 3,000.”
Rejikumar said he had planned to visit Thiruvananthapuram, but has now dropped the plan. “When I checked online and realised I would have to pay up to `9,000 for my onward and return trip, I have decided not to travel.”
The strike began on Monday affecting many travellers between Bengaluru and Kerala. Nearly 2,000 people travel daily from Bengaluru to Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, according to Rejikumar.
The Samajam has been requesting the Railways to run more trains between Bengaluru and the two Kerala cities and also asked the Kerala Transport Corporation to run more buses, he added. Stating that passengers heading to Kerala have been affected, he said that most Bengalureans travelling to Kozhikode, however, prefer to take a bus from Electronics City, Madiwala or Koramangala as it is only a six-seven hour journey compared to a 10-hour journey by train.
Rlys to run special train to Kerala, but fare high
Following demand from passengers travelling between Kerala and Bengaluru, the South Western Railway Zone announced a special train on Thursday, Train no. 06529, from KSR railway station to Kochuveli that would depart at 11.30 pm. In the return direction, Train No.06530 will leave Kochuveli station on Friday at 6.05 pm. According to NR Sridhara Murthy, Public Relations Officer, Bengaluru Railway Division,
“Our regular fare on sleeper class on this route comes to Rs 415. We will charge Rs 540 per ticket as special fare.” The Karnataka State Transport Corporation said operations were normal in all its divisions. A few buses in some divisions were deployed for casual contract duty.