One-way Di­wali fares to UP, Pun­jab cross ₹ 15,000, south is a lot cheaper

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Manju.V@ times­

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


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 ya­, 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 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.”

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