Despite an increase of up to 70 percent in international airfare and 30 per cent in domestic airfare, Indians continue to travel this summer, as evidenced by the 20-45 per cent increase in confirmed bookings for Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), air travel numbers are steadily increasing during the peak travel season of summer, between March and May in India.
EaseMyTrip has experienced a 40 per cent increase in bookings compared to the same period last year, while IPO-bound yatra.com has seen a 25 per cent increase in summer travel bookings for both the domestic and international segments.
The Flipkart-owned travel platform, Cleartrip reported a significant increase in bookings for both domestic and international segments. For international summer travel from April 16th to July 15th, bookings increased by 229.51 per cent compared to the previous year, while domestic summer travel bookings increased by 9.09 per cent for the same period, it said.
Covid, no dampener
Despite the looming fears of rising Covid cases, inflation, and extremely expensive flight tickets, Indian travellers are still eager to travel. On Saturday, 3,824 new Covid cases were recorded, making the daily positivity rate 2.87 percent and weekly positivity rate 2.24 percent. However, there has been an uptick in users opting for added benefits such as free cancellations and flexible travel plans.
Ixigo’s Aloke Bajpai, Group CEO & Co-founder, Ixigo said that the recent rise in COVID cases has not affected travel plans, and the platform is seeing strong growth in bookings and searches week on week.
Airfares, however, seem to be skyrocketing, becoming a matter of concern. Ixigo’s data shows that airfares are higher than pre-COVID levels with domestic fares rising 25-30 per cent and international fares on some routes going as high as 60-70 per cent.
An industry player requesting anonymity stated that OTAs and airlines are refusing to acknowledge that high airfares are a deterrent for travelers. International flight tickets from India have never been so expensive, and those traveling within India are preferring to book alternative modes of transportation.
A good FY24
Sabina Chopra, COO, Corporate Travel and Head - Industry Relations, Yatra.com, confirmed that train and bus bookings have seen a significant increase for this summer season with a more than 30 percent increase in bookings compared to last year. She explained that within the air travel segment, economy is preferred over premium economy and business class because Indians are conscious of their budget.
In conclusion, Indian travel operators are likely to see a good FY24, regardless of the high airfares, due to rising business travel, increasing return-to-office, preference for face-to-face meetings, and increasing consumer preference for short breaks, according to Poonam Upadhyay, Director, CRISIL Ratings. Preference for short holidays is seeing momentum, especially within India and Asian destinations. The recovery of leisure travel to the US may take longer, but with the revival in European visa issuances, forward bookings for the upcoming summer holidays have risen. OTAs confirm that travel destination searches this season remain the same, with no new surprise destinations emerging.