Airfares spike due to Air India cutbacks

AIR India’s (AI) curtailing of international services to stem operational losses has seen airfares from India to Europe and the US rise by about 20 per cent during the current peak travel season.

Since identifying that 80-90 per cent of its losses originate from international operations, the flag carrier has halted several routes to Europe and North America, including Amritsar-Delhi-Toronto and Delhi-London (Heathrow).

In all, AI intends to scale back its 34 daily connections to Europe and North America to 14 flights per day.

Exacerbated by the ongoing pilots’ strike, this cutback in international connections has seen airfares to Europe and the US rise by about 20 per cent. For example, Mumbai-London now costs Rs55,000 (US$1,008) for a two-way journey, up from Rs44,000 previously.

Anil Punjabi, chairman-east, Travel Agents Federation of India, said: “The demand for international travel is growing, so an airline making losses has only itself to blame. If AI cannot redeem itself, it should sell off its stake to other investors who can turn the airline around.”

“AI has low credibility and most passengers wouldn’t want to fly them even if they offer lower fares,” he added.

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