Mum­bai, Bengaluru run­way clo­sures see fares rise up to 200%

Business Standard - - STRATEGY - ARINDAM MAJUMDER & ANEESH PHADNIS

Last-minute air­fares have al­most dou­bled on Mum­bai and Bengaluru routes due to si­mul­ta­ne­ous run­way clo­sure at two of In­dia’s busiest air­ports. Air­lines have been forced to can­cel and resched­ule flights lead­ing to the surge in air­fares.

Mum­bai air­port an­nounced a run­way clo­sure from Fe­bru­ary 7 to March 30 due to the re­car­pet­ing of the in­ter­sec­tion of two run­ways.

There are no flight move­ments be­tween 11 am to 5 pm ev­ery Tues­day, Thurs­day, and Satur­day, at Mum­bai air­port.

Re­car­pet­ing of run­way is part of sched­uled main­te­nance process and Mum­bai air­port had given ad­vance no­tice about the clo­sure. As part of the process, two lay­ers of asphalt will be laid on the run­ways to strengthen the sur­face. The work is be­ing car­ried out prior to mon­soon to en­sure con­tin­u­ous avail­abil­ity.

Sim­i­larly, at Bengaluru air­port, over 100 flights will be af­fected as the run­way will be closed from 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm, be­tween Fe­bru­ary 14 and 17. The clo­sure will be due to the prac­tice ses­sion of the In­dian Air Force for the Aero In­dia show.

Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by travel por­tal ix­igo, econ­omy air­fares from Mum­bai have shot up by al­most 25- 30 per cent till the end of March.

“Ahmed­abad-Mum­bai has seen a hike in air­fares by over 80 per cent as com­pared to last week. Last-minute non-stop and stop-over flights have been im­pacted the most, record­ing a price surge of over 200 per cent in some cases. Around 33 per cent of all flights from Mum­bai air­port were de­layed to­day and we ex­pect a fur­ther in­crease in can­cel­la­tions and de­lays over the next few days,” said Aloke Ba­j­pai, CEO and co-founder of ix­igo.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials at Mum­bai air­port, al­most 276 flights are likely to be can­celled daily till the run­ways are re­opened. “Fares have started to rise. Both close-in and ad­vance fares are marginally up. But close-in fares are higher due to dis­rup­tions in Mum­bai and Bengaluru air­ports. Clo­sein fares for Mum­bai are 70-100 per cent higher,” said Balu Ra­machan­dran, head of air and dis­tri­bu­tion, Clear­trip.

Se­nior air­line ex­ec­u­tives also said that there is scarcity of tick­ets as peo­ple are can­celling leisure trav­els dur­ing the clo­sure pe­riod and re-plan­ning them. “We are see­ing a trend in Mum­bai where peo­ple are can­celling trav­els on Tues­day, Thurs­day and Satur­day. Our pri­or­ity is to find al­ter­nate ar­range­ments for ex­ist­ing cus­tomers rather than take new book­ings. The de­mand-sup­ply sit­u­a­tion has reached an in­flec­tion point,” ex­plained an ex­ec­u­tive of a pri­vate air­line.

Air­line ex­ec­u­tives also pointed out that such a sce­nario rakes up the avi­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture prob­lem that the coun­try is fac­ing. “It’s for years now that Mum­bai needs a sec­ond air­port. For an air­port run­ning at 100 per cent ca­pac­ity and sur­viv­ing on one-run­way op­er­a­tion; such sit­u­a­tions are bound to emerge,” he said.

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