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REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Leaving on a jet plane.
OFF WE GO!

High airfares ruined summer vacation plans for many Indians

By Niharika Sharma

The grounding of India’s oldest private airline, earlier this year, has crushed many a holiday plan during peak vacation season.

Over 40% of the respondents in a recent survey said they held back bookings due to high air-ticket prices.

The survey was conducted by travel and hotel booking website Ixigo, which studied the booking pattern of around 3.2 million Indian users between April-June this year and compared it with a year ago.

“In 2018, long-haul destinations witnessed a 25% growth along with a significant increase in Indians travelling during summer. But that trend reversed this year due to a reduction in seat capacity and an increase in ticket prices overnight,” Ixigo said in a press release. “International and domestic fares for the peak travel period of May and June increased by an average of 30-35% as compared to the first quarter of the year.”

On April 17, Jet Airways halted operations. This, along with the grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, led to a 15% decline in capacity in the industry, according to some estimates. The result was a crunch during a period when most schools are closed for the annual summer holidays and families head out for vacations.

The aviation crisis, however, is turning out to be good news for domestic tourism.

The silver lining

Looking to holiday without burning a hole in their pockets, Indians are opting for short-haul trips within India, Ixigo’s survey showed. Destinations like Srinagar, Kodagu, Jammu, Coimbatore, and Pune were their top picks this summer.

Some travellers also postponed their plans till the monsoon or winter. “Travelling during off-peak season gives them a choice to explore their bucket list in a more affordable budget,” said Rajnish Kumar, co-founder of Ixigo. “The trend is also gaining as informed travellers get discounted tariffs at hotels and cheaper airfare options.”

And this was seen in the booking trends for international destinations. There has been an increase in inquiries for London, Rome, Toronto, and Amsterdam for the off-peak months of September-November in 2019, Ixigo said.

The need to go easy on money has also forced Indians to explore non-hotel stay options.

Home for a holiday

Travellers are showing a preference for eco-friendly properties, villas, bed and breakfast, apartments, houseboats, and homestays, according to Ixigo.

“Up to 65% of travellers now prefer budget and alternative stays over premium hotels. Travellers opting for luxury accommodation (that costs Rs8,000 or $115 and above) have dropped from 25% in 2017 to 13% in 2019,” the data revealed.

YearBudgetStarLuxury
201850%28%20%
201965%22%13%