One-way Diwali fares to UP, Punjab cross ₹ 15,000, south is a lot cheaper
Mumbai: In the coming week, flights will largely be packed with two types of passengers —those heading home for Diwali and those headed for a holiday. Among these two categories would be two distinct groups—the lucky lot, that is, those headed south to destinations like Hyderabad, Bangalore and then those bound for Varanasi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Amritsar up north. For, it’s that time of the year when India gets neatly divided into two—the south where the airfares stay low as it is well connected by air, and the north which isn’t as well served by flights. Add to that the fact that Diwali is a much bigger festival up north. So, the demand for north-bound flights peaks and so do the airfares.
Which is why for a mere Rs 4,000 you could purchase (on Friday) a one-way, all-inclusive air ticket to Bangalore or Hyderabad for travel on Saturday or Sunday. But if you were to book aticket to the north, you have to pay multi-fold. On Friday, the cheapest one-way fare on the Mumbai-Varanasi non-stop route was Rs 21,000 for travel on
CHEAPEST, ALL-INCLUSIVE, ONE-WAY FARES ON FLIGHTS FROM MUMBAI*
Saturday and Rs 16,000 for Sunday. The cheapest fares on flights from Mumbai to Lucknow, too, cost the same, but they were not on non-stop flights. The fares were on impractically long flights with 16-17-hourlong transit halt in Delhi. By comparison, the Mumbai-Amritsar fares were better at Rs 15,400 for travel on Saturday and Rs 10,600 for Sunday.
Sharat Dhall of yatra.com, an online travel portal, attribu- ted it to the demand-supply situation. “There are not as many flights flying into Lucknow as there are to Hyderabad and Bangalore,” he said. Then again, Diwali is big in the north. “A fairly significant chunk of travellers plan to explore their wanderlust by celebrating Diwali at destinations that have a unique charm such as Amritsar, Jaipur and Varanasi.”
Though airfares have climbed for this weekend, a bigger rush is expected for the coming mid-week. Kapil Goswamy of BigBreaks.com said, “Starting October 19, Thursday, the long weekend will extend till October 22, Sunday. Major festivals like Diwali, Govardhan Puja and Bhaidooj fall within these days. Travel during the festive season is mainly driven by people who commute between cities in order to meet their friends and relatives. Every year, Diwali witnesses record-breaking escalation of 45-50% in travel bookings. Shravan Gupta of FCM Travel Solutions said, “We have seen a 53% uptake in overall bookings (for the nineday holiday period between October 14 and 22) this year vis-avis the previous year.”
Not just domestic destinations, Diwali travel also picks up on foreign routes. Karan Anand of Cox & Kings said, “Short vacations are the trend during Diwali. The average holiday period is between five and seven nights. We have seen a 10-15% growth in international destinations such as Bali, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Maldives. Destinations that appeal to people are those offering visa on arrival.”