The aviation ministry denied allegations that India-UK flight fares had reached the Rs 4 lakh mark.
The accusation was made by Sanjeev Gupta, secretary at the ministry of home affairs.
He tweeted that an economy-class ticket on British Airways’s Delhi-London flight for August 26 was priced Rs 3.95 lakh.
He also named Vistara Airlines and Air India.
Aviation Ministry Clears Doubts
The ministry clarified, “The fares offered on the Delhi-London sector (Economy class) range from 1.03-1.21 lakhs for Indian carriers and 1.28-1.47 lakhs for UK carriers for travel during August 2021.”
Air India said that it allowed passengers to defer their India-UK bookings.
Air India Explains
It explained that these passengers have rebooked themselves on available flights which has resulted in a huge surge in bookings on flights operating the routes.
Now, the only available seats on near-fully booked UK-bound flights are the ones in upper economy and business classes.
Hence, the fares are on the higher side of the spectrum.
UK Relaxes Curbs
The UK has recently shifted India to its ‘Amber list’ from the ‘Red list’.
India was put on the Red list from April 23 amidst the devastating second wave of the contagion.
This means that fully vaccinated people from India will be allowed entry without mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine.
Others will have to take Covid test 3 days before travel and another test within 3 days of arrival in the UK.
These travelers will also have to fill out a passenger locator form upon arrival;
Along with India, the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain have also been moved to the Amber list.
The decision came into effect from August 8.
Air India Restarts UK Flights
Air India will resume its London-bound flights from Aug 16-Sep 1, taking off from Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Amritsar and Kochi.
It said that fares are subject to travel dates, route, advance purchase etc.
Vistara chimed in by saying that pricing is “always a function of supply and demand.”
It continued by saying that at present there are only 15 flights allowed per week on the India-UK route for Indian carriers.
As and when there is relaxation on these curbs and more flights are allowed, prices will automatically come down.
Factors Influencing Airfares
Other factors to consider for the steep rise in fares on this route are:
- 30 weekly flights between India and UK
- Pent up demand of 3.5 months for travel from continuous suspension of scheduled international flights
- Ongoing peak student season
- Requirement for non stop travel for majority travelers under current air bubble rules the two countries are operating under
Prices Will Surge As Destination Country Opens Borders
In the future, more such surges can be expected as a major destination of importance to Indians or persons of Indian origin opens up its borders.
This is because those who had already booked flights on these routes will reschedule their flights as soon as the destination opens up.
Because of this, the affordable seats will be immediately booked, leaving vacant seats only in the higher classes.
The problem will be even bigger in places where flights are limited, such as 30 weekly in the case of the UK.