Around 20% of the total fleet of top-5 domestic carriers has been grounded.
Last-minute fares on key routes have jumped up to 25% since Thursday when low-cost carrier SpiceJet grounded its Boeing 737 Max fleet, which further curtailed the capacity of the domestic airlines.
Spot fares on trunk routes like Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Bengaluru and Delhi-Chennai are up 20-25% since March 13, according to data provided by Yatra.com, when the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (Dgca) ordered grounding of 12 B737 Max aircraft over safety concerns.
While the latest grounding is due to the recent crash of a 737 MAX of Ethiopian Airlines, even earlier carriers like IndiGo, GoAir, Jet Airways, and Air India had grounded a number of their aircraft due to one reason or the other, ranging from financial constraints to technical problems to shortage of pilots.
Around 20% of the total fleet of top-5 domestic carriers has been grounded. These carriers have a total fleet of around 585 aircraft. The latest grounding of newly-introduced Max aircraft has made worse for passengers as spot have shot up significantly.
For instance, a passenger will have to shell out Rs 17,925 for return journey between Delhi and Mumbai on March 17 if the tickets were booked on March 15. The ticket for the same sector on March 8 cost `14,632 for travelling a day later, up 22.5%.
Similarly, a to-and-fro journey between Delhi and Chennai cost Rs 13,842 on March 15 against Rs 11,528 on March 8, becoming dearer by 20%. Spot fares on the second busiest domestic route, Mumbai- Bengaluru have risen over 12%; return journey costs Rs 11,380 on March 15 as compared to `10,149 exactly 7 days ago. Experts point out that impact of reduced capacity for airlines has started to reflect on the upcoming holiday season. A senior executive at a travel booking portal said the fares on major routes like Delhi and Mumbai during the first week of May are up around 5% year-on-year. “The trend is likely to continue into the holiday season as capacity situation is unlikely to improve soon,” the executive added.
While SpiceJet has been forced to cancel around 40 daily flights due to ban on aircraft, market leader IndiGo has also curtailed its daily schedule by a similar number due to pilot shortage. On the other hand, Jet Airways is operating with just 61 aircraft out of 123 in its stable due to cash shortage.