International travel costs soar as airlines increase fares – ET TravelWorld

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International travel costs are soaring, making it a challenge for travellers to stick to their budgets in the coming summer vacation period, representatives from various travel companies have said.Many airlines are charging significantly more for flights to popular international destinations in the upcoming season than at the same time in previous years, with such airfares to Europe and USA seeing a particularly significant increase.

“Last year, the airfare for a round trip from India to Europe was in the range of approximately INR 50,000-60,000. This year, the same has surged to INR 80,000-90,000. Similarly, airfares for a round trip to the US have increased from INR 1 lakh-1.2 lakh to even INR 2 lakh in the coming period,” said Mehboob Shaikh, Chairman of the Travel Agents Association Of India (TAAI) Pune chapter and director of Travel Elect India.

He added that the Middle East and Far East destinations have also seen an increase in airfares, with costs now ranging from INR 25,000-40,000 for a round trip. Airfares to Australia have surged to INR 1.2 lakh-1.3 lakh for the upcoming summer from the previous INR 90,000-1 lakh.

Shaikh added, “It seems unlikely that these fares will decrease due to various factors. Demand for seats has exceeded supply, and airlines have yet to resume pre-pandemic schedules. The government should consider opening up more slots for international airlines in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata, and keeping smaller cities like Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, and Ahmedabad as backup options for additional flights.”


According to a recent report by the International Air Transport Association, the recovery in air travel continued throughout 2022 with December recording over 39 per cent increase in passenger traffic. While the domestic figures for 2022 rose 10.9 per cent compared to the prior year, India’s full year domestic traffic saw an increase of 48.8 per cent versus 2021, reaching 85.7 per cent of the pre-pandemic level.

Travel companies attributed the surge to several aspects, including increased demand for travel after Covid restrictions were lifted in many countries.Nikhil Thakurdas, CEO of Odyssey Tours and Travels, surmised that airfares to international destinations are currently 60-100 per cent higher than pre-Covid times. “This could also be due to reduction in the number of seats between popular routes as airlines are yet to fully restore flight frequencies. Other aspects include higher jet fuel prices and longer flying routes due to closure of airspace over Russia amid the war with Ukraine. Most importantly, there is enough demand from travellers despite high airfares, so the airlines feel no need to reduce them,” he said.

Thakurdas added that high airfares to some destinations such as Europe and USA could cause travellers to tweak plans to suit their pocket. He shared, “For instance, a family of four planning a vacation to Europe will have to spend INR 1 lakh-plus per person on a round trip for economy class airfare, adding up to over INR 4 lakh just on airfare. So, travellers are rationalising their travel plans according to their budget. While some may change the destination altogether and choose cheaper options like Thailand, Vietnam and Mauritius, others may opt for a cheaper airline.”

Elaborating on this trend, he said, “Travellers are also looking for the best value for their flights by being more flexible on travel dates, including being open to travel during weekdays (instead of weekends) when airfares are relatively cheaper. Some are also flying via transit hubs as direct flight options are usually more expensive. A few travellers are even opting to try out new airlines that offer cheaper airfares, instead of regular airlines where they are members of frequent flyer programmes.”

Interestingly, domestic travel may suddenly prove to be a fallback. Rishikesh Pujari, director of Vihar Travels, said, “The surge in airfares to international destinations is a major concern for travellers, who had eagerly planned their summer trips. Travellers are now looking for alternatives to their preferred destinations or making compromises in their plans to suit their purse. On the contrary, airfares to domestic destinations are nearly 20 per cent lower than the same period last year.”

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