This festive season has given airlines an opportunity to charge unimaginably high airfares. In the absence of any control, the airfares are going over the roof and touching almost Rs 80,000 on some sectors.

All the full service carriers including Jet Airways and Air Vistara are charging more than Rs 20,000 for long-haul flights on Mumbai-Delhi, Chennai-Delhi, Bengaluru-Delhi and Bengaluru-Patna sectors. The prices are only going northwards as time ticks.

Low cost carriers like IndiGo and GoAir are also not far behind as this festive season has offered them also a good opportunity to earn revenue from passengers. Passengers wanting to be with the family are likely spend extra amount.

According to Cleartrip.com, a travel portal, an economy ticket from Bangalore to Delhi via Mumbai will cost a passenger Rs 79,000 for a 5.45 p.m. flight on Friday.

Fare of a direct flight from Bangalore to Delhi on the low cost carrier, IndiGo and full service carrier, Vistara tomorrow is almost at par, around Rs 28,000. Due to festive season all the flights from Bangalore and Mumbai to Delhi and Patna are likely to be fully booked. They could also be overbooked and owing to this they may be charging exorbitantly for offering a seat to a needy passenger. “There is no transparency. Airlines do not tell whether the flight is fully booked or overbooked,” said a travel agency operator.

The airfares are on the higher side as this is a weekend and next week several festive occasions are lined up.

A travel consultant, Anil Bhandari, said the price of the tickets depend on the load factor. However, he said that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) should have some control on the airlines.

Sanjeev Joshi, an inbound tour operator, said that tourist booking has witnessed a sharp decline due to exorbitant prices charged by airlines.

Joshi said a ticket from Shimla to Delhi which normally costs somebody Rs 4000 if he does a booking in February, now costs the passengers Rs 18,900. Interestingly, Air Alliance is operating on the Shimla-Delhi route on UDAN scheme which promises passengers travel at affordable cost.

“These fares are ridiculous. What airlines tell is that they are bleeding but this is hardly credible,” said senior vice-president, Nivalink Tour and Travels, K R Krishnan.

Krishnan said that because of the festive season, they are charging exorbitantly as this is the time they can make money. This is what they call revenue management, said Krishnan.

At non-peak hours the passenger can get a better bargain during this festive season. But one will have to be prepared to board a flight late into the night or at the break of dawn. Frequent flyers can earn miles and get seat preference depending on the policy of the airline. But if you don’t you will have to shell out more.

CCI probing airfare issue

The Competition Commission of India is looking at the algorithms used by airlines to determine fares, as part of a detailed probe into alleged fixing of air ticket prices, a PTI report says quoting CCI chairperson Sudhir Mital.

“We are trying to work out the pricing pattern followed by airlines. Airlines have often stated that similarity in airfares as well as increase in prices is an outcome of demand based dynamic pricing by the softwares used by them. Unless and until the issue is examined and looked into in detail, we cannot say much at this stage,” Mital said.

The fair trade regulator is investigating cases pertaining to steep fluctuations in airfares during the Jat agitation in Haryana and floods in Chennai, among other instances, in the last few years.