Plane travel may hit air pocket

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, Jun 8 | Updated: Jun 10 2008, 02:28am hrs
The recent hike in aviation fuel has come as a dampener to domestic air passengers. According to Chennai-based Air Passengers Association of India (APAI), there is a strong possibility of domestic air travel not showing any growth this year.

Since May 2007, fuel surcharge on short haul flights increased 137% to Rs 2,250. On long routes, the surcharge has gone up 76%, from Rs 1,650 to Rs 2,900. D Sudhakara Reddy, president, APAI, said, After the fuel hike, we are getting several telephone calls from worried passengers across the country. Regular passengers dont seem interested in travelling by air due to the rise in fares. He added that last year, the number of domestic passengers stood at 60 million.

In view of the response of air passengers across the country, Reddy sees a drop of 10-15% in air travel compared to last year. A Mumbai-based analyst said, On one side, you have a hike in fares and on the other, the four big airports - Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi - are adding new service charges, thereby increasing operating costs. Airlines are in no position to absorb the steep airport usage fee and the spiralling fuel costs and these will have to be passed on to passengers. Comparing the prevailing scenario due to the hike in air fares with that in the US where passengers have decided to travel by road instead of air, Reddy said, The soaring air fares have hurt travellers across the globe alike.