Overseas Keralites hit hard as airfares touch new heights

Taking advantage of the spurt in demand, all airlines operating to the three destinations - Trivandrum, Cochin and Calicut, including budget airlines like Air India Express, have increased the fare mani-fold.

By T K Devasia

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Published: Wed 15 Jul 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 15 Jul 2015, 10:31 AM

Trivandrum - Airfare in the Gulf-Kerala sector has touched new heights with the demand for seats in the flights to the three airports in Kerala peaking in view of Eid and Onam festivals.
Although the airfare in the sector goes up every year during the peak season from July to September, travel agents say the increase this time is very high. This is mainly due to increase in the number of people visiting their homes during the school holidays in the Middle East in the recent years.
Many expats, who used to visit home only once in two or three years earlier, appear to have increased the frequency mainly because additional gains they have got from fall in the Indian rupees. Family members of expats visiting their kin in the Gulf during the summer vacation in India have also added to the pressure on seats.
Taking advantage of the spurt in demand, all airlines operating to the three destinations - Trivandrum, Cochin and Calicut, including budget airlines like Air India Express, have increased the fare mani-fold. While the normal one way fare in the Gulf-Kerala sector is in the range of Rs8,000 to Rs10,000, the minimum fare available during this week is around Rs25,000.
The Air India fare from Dubai to Cochin touched Rs23,000 last week. Passengers to Calicut, where operation of wide-bodied aircrafts has been stopped due to re-carpeting are feeling the biggest pinch. Air India is charging Rs32,000 in this sector. The passengers arriving at Cochin have to pay Rs6,500 extra to reach Calicut.
The fares to various Gulf countries from Kerala for August end and early September, which is supposed to be the peak period, already reached Rs14,000-21,000 range. It will witness further increase in the weeks ahead, airline sources said.
The state government which has been knocking the doors of the federal government for permission to operate its own budget airline to address the issue has sought the urgent intervention of the Civil Aviation Minister to check the rising fares.
Non-resident Keralites Affairs Minister K C Joseph said many Keralites working in the Gulf countries are forced to drop their plans to visit their homes during the school holidays there due to the steep hike in the airfare. In a letter to Federal Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Joseph pointed out that the airlines were charging four to five times more than the normal fares.
Kerala Association of Travel Agents (KATA) President Muralidharan said a direction to the state airlines to reduce the fares was not a solution to the problem. He said that the problem can be solved only by operating special flights.
The federal government used to operate such flights in the past. However, the practice was stopped following entry of foreign and private airlines in the sector. Muralidharan has urged the state government to mount pressure on the federal government to resume the practice in view of the huge pressure on seats.
news@khaleejtimes.com



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