Muscat: Passengers in Oman travelling to India will have to shell out more for airfares, after two major operators flying to the country decided to cancel some of the busiest routes.
Travel agents working in the Sultanate told Times of Oman that direct flights to key destinations such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Calicut and Chennai were scrapped.
Now, the direct flights from Oman to India operated by Jet Airways to Mumbai and New Delhi are also likely to be cancelled.
“We are now hearing that a decision on these two destinations might also come very soon,” a travel agent said.
“In these sectors, there will be fewer inventories for sale due to the cancellation of all these flights and there is a possibility of an increase in ticket prices,” the chief operating officer of a leading travel agency said.
This comes after Indian carrier Jet Airways cancelled its direct flights to Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi in Kerala from Muscat International Airport.
In addition, budget airline Indigo has also cancelled its flights to Calicut and Chennai. Indigo now only operates flights to the Indian cities of Mumbai, Kochi and Ahmedabad.
The knock-on effect of this is that people who are looking to fly to these destinations might have to pay more money for direct flight tickets, as other airlines responded to the decrease in competition by inflating their own fares. People might also have to face long transit times as they wait for connecting flights to take them to their destinations.
A senior official of the airline industry, however, claimed that the fares have not been hiked because of fewer flights. “People are only getting higher class economy fares, which sometimes reach 500 per cent,” travel agents said.
For example, passengers flying to New Delhi might have to pay as much as OMR227 for a one-way ticket, and face flying and transit times of up to 20 hours on one airline. Flights to Mumbai on the same airline are priced at OMR217, with the total journey taking upwards of 17 hours. In addition, flights to Thiruvananthapuram are being sold for OMR200, and tickets to Chennai will set passengers back by some OMR140. The cost of a regular ticket to Kolkata was OMR222.
In contrast, flying to Mumbai on Indigo Airlines would be possible for as low as OMR67, while Jet Airways flights to the same destination cost just OMR38. A travel agent in Oman said fares from Muscat to Mumbai (one way) began at OMR28 but soared to beyond OMR150 during the peak season. “Everything depends on demand and supply,” he added.
“The decision to terminate the operations to Oman is a big decision made under surging fuel prices and the weaker rupee that is affecting India’s leading carrier Jet Airways,” said Sudeep Joseph, Head of Travel for Travel Point.
“Jet Airways’ withdrawal will cut competition and thus reduce the scope for travellers to enjoy competitive ticket fares. Indian families will face challenges while booking their summer vacation tickets during the months of February, March and April. This will affect South India-bound traffic to Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram.”
“However, we don’t anticipate a drop in India-bound passengers,” he added. “We will work closely with impacted guests to notify them of the changes to their itineraries and re-accommodate them on alternative flights.”