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With fare cap set to go, September flights at a bargain – Times of India

With fare cap set to go, September flights at a bargain – Times of India

MUMBAI: The government fare band, which sets an upper and lower price limit for domestic air tickets, will be withdrawn on August 31, leaving airlines free to drop or hike fares with no capping. What it means is cheap fares during lean season and heavily priced tickets during peak travel season. If you plan to fly domestic this Diwali, then now is the time to book that air ticket, for the change is already apparent.
Fares for non-stop flights to most destinations for travel in September are comparatively cheaper than they ever were in the past few months. For instance, the cheapest Mumbai-Delhi return fare for travel in the first week of September starts at Rs 7,800. When fares were capped, a Mumbai-Delhi return fare booked over two weeks in advance cost over Rs 12,000.

“Travellers should book well in advance. Demand for domestic air tickets will be high during the festive season. Since fare caps have been removed, fares will be based on demand-supply situations. There will be no upper cap to limit their rise,” said Jay Bhatia, vice-president, Travel Agents Association of India. The signs are already in place. Currently, the cheapest return fare on Mumbai-Kolkata route for travel during the Dussehra week (October first week) starts at a bellwether price of Rs 16,200.
Fares for travel during Diwali (October 24) are already priced a notch higher than for September travel. For instance, the cheapest round fare on Mumbai-Goa non-stop flight for travel during the first weekend of September begins at Rs 4,800, while it costs Rs 8,000 for Diwali week travel. Similar comparisons can be made for fares from Mumbai to destinations such as Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Srinagar, Leh, Dehradun, Jaipur etc. In most of the cases, the October return fare is costlier by Rs 1,000-2,000 currently. The Diwali fares are expected to take off in the coming weeks.
The airline official said, “We are anticipating high demand for travel during this year’s Diwali holidays. A majority of bookings are likely to come in 2-3 weeks before Diwali. By October 1 though, fares for travel around October-end are likely to be at least 20-24% costlier than they are today.” When asked about forward bookings for Diwali holidays, he said the quantum of forward bookings is much lower than witnessed in pre-Covid in 2019.

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