Airfares unlikely to return to normal anytime soon, expats feel the pinch

A ticket on the Kochi-Kuwait route for Monday is priced in the range of Rs 1,05,100 to Rs 2,18,500, the highest among the GCC countries.

Published: 27th September 2021 02:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2021 02:47 AM   |  A+A-

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For representational purposes (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Is the dramatic rise in airfares an indication of the post-pandemic recovery? Hard to say but if the latest trend is any indication, the exorbitant ticket rates charged by airlines post the second wave is likely to continue for a few more months, burning a hole in the pockets of expatriates. Seats to various destinations in the Gulf countries are selling like hot cakes, something the airlines have missed since the Covid outbreak. In turn, the surge in demand, unsurprisingly, is pushing up flight ticket prices to a record high.

A ticket on the Kochi-Kuwait route for Monday is priced in the range of Rs 1,05,100 to Rs 2,18,500, the highest among the GCC countries. The Kochi-Riyadh flight ticket costs Rs 1,98,400.   An airline officer said there is little chance of airfares returning to normal in the next few months as the fare on each route is demand-driven.

“Many expats who arrived in the state before the second wave are now trapped. Also, overseas firms have started recalling staff who were told to go on leave once the restrictions were eased in various countries. In the case of Kuwait and Saudi, they have allowed only restricted entry, which is one of the main reasons for the high rates on these routes. Meanwhile, the Dubai Expo that begins on October 1 has contributed to the high fare on the Kerala-UAE routes,” he said. 

Return tickets cheaper than outbound flight seats

Some airlines have reduced the number of available seats after the Covid outbreak, which too resulted in ticket prices skyrocketing. Though the Centre is planning to open the borders for foreigners soon by offering sops to revitalise the hospitality and airline sectors, the move is not expected to bring any major change in airfare dynamics as the number of foreigners visiting Kerala is not very big from the point of view of airlines, which mainly cater to passengers in the ‘visiting friends and relatives’ (VFR) category.

Kerala is not a big attraction for foreigners, except for wellness travel, in comparison to Colombo or Bangkok, experts have said. On Saturday Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that Venu Rajamony, the state government’s Officer on Special Duty in New Delhi, has taken up various issues faced by Pravasis with the external affairs ministry. “Among other things, the travel woes of expats were also presented before the central government officials, to find a solution,” he said.

On the other hand, the return tickets to various airports in Kerala and other parts of the country are cheap compared to the fare on outbound flights. The passenger load factor -- the percentage of seats filled per flight against the total seating capacity -- on return flights is very low in inbound flights. The buoyancy in the overseas job markets and the reluctance of expats to take risks by travelling to Kerala has contributed to the sluggishness in the number of inbound passengers. The trend is unlikely to change soon, said a senior officer with Air India.


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