There is now a rise in the number of people booking tickets well in advance, as opposed to last-minute emergency travel, according to travel portals
After a drastic fall in demand for air travel from March onwards due to the second wave of COVID-19, there is now a steady rise in the number of daily passengers. People are once again making bookings well in advance of their travel dates, as well as returning from tier-2 and tier-3 cities to big metros, according to online travel agents.
“The domestic air traffic is picking up with a 45% rise in June compared to May due to opening up of cities as the second wave of COVID-19 subsided,” says Ameya Joshi, Founder of aviation analysis website Network Thoughts. “The average daily count stood just shy of 1 lakh passengers per day in June, which is one-fourth of pre-COVID numbers,” he adds.
In February 2021, before the second wave of COVID-19 hit, passenger figures hovered between 2.5 lakh and 3 lakh per day nearing pre-COVID levels. But, from March began a decline that would touch a low of 39,370 passengers on May 18.
According to travel portals MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip, and ixigo, there is now a rise in the number of people booking tickets well in advance, as opposed to last-minute emergency travel.
“Round Trip share is about 25% and the share of trips for travel over four weeks from date of booking has breached 10% level. We expect this trend to continue with reducing caseloads and increasing vaccination levels,” said a Cleartrip spokesperson.
According to ixigo’s CEO & Director, Aloke Bajpai, “share of bookings for travel beyond 30 days has doubled in the last one week — a sign of growing confidence for travel in July”.
This is despite the fact that the period from July-September is traditionally considered a lean season for travel as schools reopen after the summer break. “Seasonality in travel demand doesn’t hold right now as there is a lot of pent-up demand,” Mr. Bajpai explains.
Due to the relaxation of restrictions by several States and normalization of activities, people are also traveling back to metros like Delhi, Mumbai & Bengaluru from their hometowns in tier 2 & 3 cities.
Bookings from cities like Varanasi, Darbhanga, Patna, Gorakhpur to metros have seen a jump of 45-50% in the last 2 weeks, according to data shared by ixigo.
Airlines are also enticing passengers by offering cheaper fares for tickets booked 30 days or more before the date of travel. The difference in fare is as sharp as 50-70%. “The intent is to stimulate demand. Once the demand comes in, then fares start to go up,” an airline executive said.
For example, a Delhi — Mumbai flight booked for July 10 costs ₹6,795, and for August 1 costs ₹2,722 — a 60% difference in airfare. Similarly, a Delhi-Patna flight booked for the same dates costs ₹4,589 and ₹1,999 — a 56% difference in cost.