The closure of runways at India's two busiest airports has led to a steep rise in last-minute airfares. Several flights are being cancelled and rescheduled by airlines facing problems due to the maintenance work at two runways of the Mumbai airport. These runways at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai will remain closed for revamping for six hours every alternate day beginning February 7 till March 30. The Bengaluru airport, however, will be closed for three hours -- from 1.30pm to 4.30pm -- for four days between February 14 and 17. The airport will be closed to allow practice sessions for the Indian Air Force's (IAF) biennial Aero India show.
The Mumbai airport runways will be closed from 11 am to 5 pm for three days -- Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays -- every week till March 30. The maintenance work at the runways includes the laying of two asphalt layers. While around 100 flights could be affected due to the runway closure at the Bengaluru airport, the number could go up to 5,000 at Mumbai airport due to the restoration work, which will go on for more than a month; the Mumbai airport handles around 1,000 flights a day.
On the first day of its closure, over 230 flights were cancelled at the Mumbai airport. Due to a constant delay and scarcity of flights, most airlines have been quick to increase their last-minute airfares. On Monday, a nonstop IndiGo flight from Delhi to Mumbai was priced at over Rs 16,612, while Jet Airways was charging Rs 14,357 for one-way flight. SpiceJet non-stop one-way flight ticket was priced at Rs 16,612, while Air India was charging up to Rs 17,014 for one-way flight.
According to travel portal ixigo, the average airfare has been up by average 23 per cent on key routes to and from Mumbai. The routes with maximum fare hike include Ahmedabad-Mumbai, Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Bengaluru, Bengaluru-Mumbai, and stop over routes. In some case, the airfares have shot by 200 per cent, claims the travel portal.
"Ahmedabad-Mumbai has seen a substantial hike in airfares of over 80 per cent as compared to last week. Last minute non-stop flights and stop overflights have been impacted the most, recording a growth 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," PTI had earlier quoted ixigo co-founder and CEO Aloke Bajpai as saying.
Edited by Manoj Sharma