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Spiralling air fares playing spoilsport with expatriates

Posted on June 20, 2012
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air-fares

While Air has stopped bookings for India, the low-cost airlines operating from other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are almost full as of now. The few available tickets have been priced too high for the common man to afford.

Muscat: It’s a rush time to head home and a large number of Indians, especially blue-collar and mid-level workers, say they’re feeling kind of “stuck-, owing to the non-availability, and high prices of air tickets.

In a period of just 30 days, the airfares to India have soared approximately 75 per cent, even for one way travel. If a passenger had to pay RO93 to fly to the south Indian state of Kerala from Muscat a month ago, he now has to shell out RO173 to purchase the ticket to the same destination. In the case of a to-and-fro ticket to Kerala sector from Muscat, the current fare is around RO275, which was only RO178 a month ago.

“We had some emergencies back home but we are not able to purchase tickets due to the non-availability and high prices of air tickets,- an Indian expat with a small business house in Ruwi, told Times of Oman. This sentiment was seconded by several other expats.

High rates

“Due to the high rates, are reluctant to purchase tickets and are advising the workers to postpone their travel dates till the fares come down,- one of them said.

According to travel agents in Muscat and Salalah, the airfares to all Indian destinations are touching new highs.

Suresh Kumar, a desk clerk working with a small business house in Ruwi, has postponed his sister’s marriage for the second time in a month. Two days back, his office told him to do so because they couldn’t an air ticket back to his hometown as the prices are touching new highs.

In just 30 days, the airfares to India have soared approximately 75 per cent, even for one way travel.

So, if a passenger had to pay RO93 to fly to the south Indian state of Kerala from Muscat, now he has to shell out RO173 to purchase a ticket for the same destination.

In the case of a to-and-fro ticket to Kerala sector from Muscat, yesterday’s ticket fare was around RO275, which was only RO178 a month ago.

And this hits people like Suresh. “I have postponed my sister’s marriage again. My office says tickets are not available and even if it is available, the prices are too high for them to afford. I can’t afford to buy a ticket. When I checked with different travel agencies, I would have to shell out nearly RO200 even for one way, which is beyond my financial limits,- Suresh said, while adding that he has dropped his plans to attend his sister’s marriage.

Postponing plans

Like Suresh, many mid-level Indian expatriate workers in the Sultanate have either postponed or dropped their plans to go home for holidays or for any emergencies as the non-availability of tickets and high airfares are burning deep holes in their pockets.

According to travel agents in Muscat and Salalah, the air fares to all Indian destinations are touching new highs.

“The cancellation of Air India flights and the perils of Air India flight operations are the main reasons behind this crisis,- the travel agents told Times of Oman.

Be it to Kerala, Mumbai or Delhi, the ticket fares as of now are around RO275-300 (to-and fro) and it will be almost the same or higher until July 20.

“This year, the Indian schools in the region are closing for the vacations almost at the same time. This has increased the demand for tickets to India all across the region. So, the low-cost airlines operating from the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are almost full as of now. People in Muscat are not getting tickets of these flights. And as per the data, Oman Air flights are also full,- a travel agent said.

Advance sale

“Air India Express had stopped bookings a few days back. The is that the people in Oman have to depend on Jet Airways. Eventually, due to the high demand and advance sale, there is a shortage of tickets and the price has become unaffordable for commoners,- the travel agent added.

Meanwhile, a Muscat-based expert in the aviation industry said the troubles faced by Air India, certain policies adopted by the Government of India and the pricing strategies adopted by the airlines in Middle East are the main reasons behind the soaring air fares.

Subsidy issue

“The Indian airlines are on the verge of extinction as the government is not providing subsidy in fuel charge. So, to compensate this, the Indian airlines have to increase the ticket prices. Meanwhile, the Middle East airlines are also increasing the ticket prices even though they don’t face any fuel crisis. This is the main reason for the increase in ticket fares,- the expert said, while adding that the lack of government bodies to control the air fare is also worsening the crisis.

According to the expert, if the airlines in the region face financial crises, their governments pump in money and resolve
the issues.

“For RO270 we can purchase a Muscat-London-Muscat ticket. The one-way journey will be around 16 hours. The airline has to provide breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. In addition to fuel charges, the airline is shelling out a huge operation cost while flying to Western destinations.

“But, today if we have to fly to Kerala and return to Muscat we have to shell out RO275. It should be noted that the journey is of three hours only,- the expert added.

The policies

Meanwhile, Shaji Sebastin, a Muscat-based social worker, blamed the Government of India’s policies for the present crisis.
“The Government of India has proved that it has failed in operating an airline to help the low-income expatriates. Through its policies, Air India has landed in neck deep trouble.

“The other airlines are making use of this present situation. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the Aviation Ministry should intervene in this matter immediately,- he added.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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