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Wednesday, Mar 06, 2002

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Airlines get busy again

Nina Varghese

CHENNAI, March 5

ALMOST all flights out of India are choc-a-bloc and the last couple of days saw a large number of passengers being `denied boarding' at the major gateway airports.

An increase in traffic volume and a reduction in seat capacity are the two reasons for this situation, industry sources said. The Managing Director of Amadeus India, Mr Ankur Bhatia, a global travel software distributor, said that there had been an increase in travel during February, which came mainly from the corporate sector, and not from ethnic Indian traffic.

Amadeus, he said, recorded a growth of almost 20 per cent during January-February while the industry growth was slightly less. Industry sources said that there was a reduction in seat capacity at all the major airports in the country.

One of the immediate results of September 11, besides a fall in passenger confidence, was that a number of airlines rationalised their operations out of India; some like Qantas even pulled out. On the other hand, airlines continued to indulge in what is seen as an industry practice, overbook to safeguard themselves against cancellations, according to industry sources.

Airline sources said that with the rush for seats, most of the net and net fares that were introduced during late 2001 to stimulate travel were not available. British Airways has withdrawn its low-priced fares introduced in October 2001 effective March 5. The notice states that all travel and ticketing commencing March 6 for economy and business class will be at the published IATA levels as per the system and will be subject to IATA commission.

With airlines reverting to the published fare, the increase in fare for economy class travel on British Airways would be almost double, sources said.

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